Virtue ethics Essay
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1. 0 Introduction Different cultures have different way of thinking. With the coming of Christianity, a new set of ideas emerged. The Christians, like the Jews, viewed God as a lawgiver, and so laws will be the key to righteous living. For the Greeks, the life of virtue was in related to the life of reason. But Saint Augustine, the influential fourth-century Christian thinker, distrusted reason and believed that moral goodness depends on subordinating oneself to the will of God. Thus, modern moral philosophers has different subject from ancients by asking What is the right thing to do?
Instead of asking What traits of character make someone a good person? This led them in a different direction.
Following are theories develop by them: Ethical Egoism: Each person ought to do whatever will best promote his or her own interests. The social Contract Theory: The right thing to do is to follow the rules that rational, self-interested people would agree to follow for their mutual benefit.
Utilitarianism: One ought to do whatever will lead to the most happiness. Kant’s theory: Our duty is to follow rules that we could accept as universal laws – that is, rules we would be willing for everyone to follow in all circumstances.
(Ruggeiro. V. R. ,2011) 2. 0 What Is a Virtue? The first systematic description of virtue ethics was written down by Aristotle in his famous work Nichomachean Ethics. Aristotle said that a virtue is a trait of character manifested in habitual action. The word “habitual” here is important. The virtue of honesty, for example, is not possessed by someone who tells the truth only occasionally or only when it benefits her. The honest person is truthful as a matter of course; her actions “spring from a firm and unchangeable character. ” (Ruggeiro. V. R.,2011)
When people acquire good habits of character, they are better able to regulate their emotions and their reason. This, in turn, we will reach morally correct decisions during making difficult choices. To apply virtue ethics to a given case first should discuss which character traits (virtues, vices, intermediate states) are relevant and reflect on the kind of actions, attitudes, and feelings go along with them. It is not enough to say “This action expresses virtue,” you must say which virtue (generosity, appropriate compassion) and the reason. (Dr.Garrett, 2005)
2. 1 What are the Virtues? Virtues are the essence of our character. Almost every character should be fostered in human beings. The more virtues that we can practice on our life, the more our lives open up to new possibilities and to greater joy and fulfillment. Virtues List Fairness| Patience| Prudence| Friendliness| Loyalty| Honesty| Conscientiousness| Helpfulness| Self-discipline| Compassion| Courage| Self- reliance| Civility| Cooperativeness| Tolerance| (World language process, n, d) There are many more beside from the list above.
3. 0 Topic sentence In the virtues list above, I have chosen helpfulness as the greatest ethical ideal that I learned from this subject. According to (Shelly, 2009) helpfulness is teachable by our parent and family members since we are young. For example, we can teach a dog to become seeing-eye dog which can help the blind man in his daily life. The reason that I choose this is because I had experience the important of helpfulness in the hour of need. One day, I went to Giant supermarket to buy a bottle of soft drink that is RM3.
00, when I went to cashier and made payment, I realize that I had no enough money in my purse. I only have RM1 in my purse, and there long queue behind me. I asked the cashier that whether I can make payment by debit card or not. She tried few times but the card machine is not functioning. I feel anxiety and ashamed because there is many people waiting behind me. Suddenly, a Malay girl came beside me and helps to pay another RM2 to the cashier. I feel grateful the Malay girl had helps me in the hour of need although we don’t know each other and when I want to return the money to her but she rejected.
In the end, I had return back the money to her and her friend said she was always like that. The helpfulness of the Malay girl is worth to be learned by us. Helping each other is just a very common thing in our life and it is benefit the giver as well as the receiver. But sometimes, there are some people helping others in order to get reward from those who need help. To avoid this, we should help people spontaneously just like the Malay girl. Ethics is asp rational rather than obligations for inducing human nature to be an ideal.
According to mental health America (2012), there is a research show that those who often helps other people will live in less depression, greater calm, fewer pains and better health life. In Malaysia, we have three major ethic groups and others minor ethnic groups living together. In order to achieve peaceful coexistence, we should help each other when the hour of need rather than just care for our own. If we can continued foster the virtue of helpfulness, our country will be harmonious. But, unfortunately, our society has gradually become cold and detached. There is a case happened in Air Itam, Penang.
A 60-year-old woman, Tan Kin Chuan, was robbed and knocked down by two snatch thieves on a motorcycle in and sadly, no one went to her aid. The disturbing scene was caught by CCTV cameras installed near the motorcycle parking area on the ground floor of the Padang Tembak flats. Based on the footages, the woman, who worked at a “kopitiam” lay unconscious as several people walked pass before an old man walking with an aid of a cane, finally called an ambulance. She was later taken to the Penang Hospital but succumbed to her injuries eight hours later, due to head injuries. (ntv7 News Portal, 2012)
Why that passer-by doesn’t want to help the old woman? If the first passer-by give aid to the old woman and send her on time to the hospital, she might not die at the end? Nowadays, Malaysia public order is getting more and more worse; we can see there is many cases such as frauds, pretending to ask for directions, disguise the identity of the robbery, kidnaps reported in newspaper. In such circumstances, people had to be vigilant, no longer easily trust each others, or even turn a blind eye to help in the immediate event, so as not to fall into the trap of getting himself into trouble.
At the end, people’s compassion and mercy has been reducing and replace with the heart of stone and indifferent attitude. There is many ways for us in helping others and it’s doesn’t means that we have to make grand gestures or huge time commitments. It can mean holding the elevator for someone is coming in, helps your co-worker to gets something is beyond their reach, letting a car in front of you on the road and many others. Besides that, we also can involve our self as a volunteer in some organization which having social responsibility project.
We can based on our interest to find a right match, for example, if you are interest in reading, you may consider volunteering at a school or tutoring program; if you love animal, you can volunteering in Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. 4. 0 Conclusion In conclusion, we should not be hesitate and stingy to give a helping hand for the needy. Although it’s may be only a single small act of kindness but when bound together it can make a big changes. It is because so many people step forward and offer that helping hand that we are able to help those who are in more unfortunate situations.
Reference Ruggeiro. V. R. (2011) Thinking Critically about Ethnical issues (8th edition). Boston. Mc Gard- Hill Dr. Garrett, (2005) Virtue Ethics [Online]. Retrieved from: http://www. wku. edu/~jan. garrett/ethics/virtthry. htm [Accessed on 5 Nov 2012] World language process (n,d) List of Virtues [Online]. Retrieved from: http://www. worldlanguageprocess. org/comic%20books/virtues%20list. htm [Accessed on 10 Nov 2012] Shelly. R (2009) Helpfulness [Online]. Retrieved from: http://www. heartlight. org/articles/200906/20090616_helpfulness.
html [Accessed on 6 Nov 2012] Mental Health America (2012) Helps Other [Online]. Retrieved from: http://www. liveyourlifewell. org/go/live-your-life-well/others [Accessed on 10 Nov 2012] Ntv7 News Portal, (2012) No immediate assistance: Elderly woman knocked down by snatch thief, ignored by all but an old man [Online]. Retrieved from: http://origin-www. ntv7. com. my/7edition/local-en/NO_IMMEDIATE_ASSISTANCE_ELDERLY_WOMAN_KNOCKED_DOWN_BY_SNATCH_THIEF_IGNORED_BY_ALL_BUT_AN_OLD_MAN. html[Accessed on 16 Nov 2012].