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Virtue ethics

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Philosophy
Wordcount: 1002 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The purpose of this essay is to talk about virtue ethics, Deontology and I ‘m going to talk about its meaning and how a person that practices, or have this kind of ethics system will act   if he or she would be in a dilemma; it is important to remember that I am going to show this on the different ethics systems that I am going to talk about, and that I’ll explain it with some examples that we’ve learned in class. Another thing that I am going to express in this essay is my opinion about each ethic system that I will talk about.


Virtue ethics

Virtue ethics is a system of ethics that emphasizes on the virtues or the moral character of the people. This means that it is based on what the person had done if he has done bad things then he has a bad moral character.

Supposing that someone needs help then, someone that practices the virtue ethics will eventually help him if he is a good person, he would help him because in that case the person that is helping is doing charity or benevolence.

Now I’ll explain it with an example that I’ve seen in the class of Mr. Stevens: Suppose that there is a train that is going to crash five people and if you turn the roads of the train u kill one person; suppose that person is good and the other five are bad persons with bad moral character so someone that practices virtue ethics will let the train to kill the five people.

Virtue ethics is based on some features that are:

  • Its guiding question: What should I do?
  • Emphasis on character, not on individual actions. The goodness comes from the people that perform the act not vice versa, this means that the good people here is the one that performs the act.
  • It is based on the character of the person that you are helping if he is someone that has patience or benevolence he has virtues, and if he is someone that has cowardice or laziness, etc he has vices and he is not a virtuous person.
  • To have a virtue is to respond to some certain sorts of situations or circumstances in the appropriate way, for example: having courage in a difficult or dangerous situation.
  • Good people are virtuous and they don’t have vices.

It is important to remember that the virtue ethics were created by the Greek philosophers Aristotle and Plato. It was originated in the Greek Philosophy on that time.


Deontology, also called deontological ethics, is a system of ethic that judges the morality (if it’s a good action or it is a bad action) of an action if the action is based on some rules or duties. So deontologists do their actions according to a rule or a duty that we can find in two main schools of deontology that are:


As I have said before Deontology obeys rules and Inter Kant, that was a deontologist proposed three laws:

  1. “Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.”
  2. “Act as though the maxim of your action were by your will to become a universal law of nature.”
  3. Act so that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in that of another, always as an end and never as a means only.”

This one was old, he was born on 1724 and died on 1804.There is other school of deontology and it is more modern that is the W.D.Ross (1877-1971)

He says that the actions on deontology were judged according to some duties that he stated, that are:

Duties stemming from one’s own previous actions:
1. fidelity: duty to fulfill (explicit and implicit) promises/agreements into which one has entered
2. Reparation: duty to make up for wrongful acts previously done to others

Duties stemming from the previous actions of others:
3. gratitude: duty to repay others for past favors done for oneself

Duties stemming from the (possibility of) a mismatch between persons’ pleasure or happiness and their “merit”:
4. justice: duty to prevent or correct such a mismatch

Duties stemming from the possibility of improving the conditions of others with respect to virtue, intelligence, or pleasure:
5. beneficence: duty to improve the conditions of others in these respects

Duties stemming from the possibility of improving one’s own condition with respect to virtue or intelligence:
6. self-improvement : duty to improve one’s own condition in these respects

Special duty to be distinguished from the duty of beneficence:
7. Non-maleficence: duty not to injure others

So then according to the train example I have explained after in this essay a deontologist will let the 5 guys to die, even if they were bad persons. I’ll explain it with a law that is the rule number 1 of Kant school. So a deontologist will let the 5 people to die because he follows rules, and in that case what will happen if all people would be doing an action to kill one people, the person that is doing the action is not killing him, but he is doing an action, there.

My opinion about this ethic system, is that this ethics system is a good system because, it respects the life of everyone and the duties and laws are very good proposed because they let you make a good decision in which you would not feel guilty at the end.


  • Wikipedia, “Deontological ethics”. May 26, 2010.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deontological_ethics
  • “W.D.Ross Moral Theory”http://www.hu.mtu.edu/~tlockha/hu329ov8.htm
  • Wikipedia, “Immanuel Kant “.May 26, 2010. http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immanuel_Kant
  • “Virtue Ethics”, Stanford Encyclopedia of philosophy. 2003. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ethics-virtue/


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