Medical Ethics Harootunian 10/21/11 1 Virtue Ethics A virtue theory of ethics is a normative ethical theory . For a virtue ethicist, the fundamental questions of interest are the fo llowing: “What sort of person should I be? What is it to be a virtuous person ? What is it to be a vicious person?” Virtue ethical theories are still concerned with morally appraising acts, but the appraisal of acts is secondary to the appraisal of a person ’ s character. A morally right act is defined in terms of what a virtuous person would do: An act is morally right if and only if the act is what a virtuous person would do. So a virtue theory of ethics straddles the divide between normative ethics of behavior (NEB) and axiology. In virtue ethics, an axiological determination is first made – we determine what is morally good and morally bad. Certain character traits are morally good, others are morally bad. A person whose character is properly constituted by the specified morally good traits is virtuous ; a person whose character is constituted by the specified morally bad traits is vicious . Then a determination in the normative ethics of behavior is made – we define an act to be morally right in terms of what is morally good, that is, in terms of what a virtuous person would do. This is to say that virtue ethics gives
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