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VIRTUE ETHICS AND THENATURAL LAW ETHICSThe Ethical Theories of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas
OBJECTIVES:At the end of the lesson, the students should beable to:Distinguish the two kinds of virtue.Differentiate the ethics of Aristotle fromThomas Aquinas.Point out the relation of the natural law toeternal law.
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VIRTUE ETHICS &ARISTOTLEWho is Aristotle?An ancient Greek philosopher and scientistborn in the city of Stagira, 384 BCA student of Plato, he joined Plato's Academyin Athens until the age of thirty-seven(c.347BC).Teacher of Alexander the Great beginning in343BC.Established his own school, Lyceum.He left Athens after Alexander’s death in 323BC.He died in Euboea, 322 BC.
NICOMACHEAN ETHICSAristotle’s theory is Teleological in nature.Telosmeans, goals, ends or purpose.Eudaimonia(happiness) is the highest goal (telos) ofhuman life, one which is final, self-sufficient, andattainable in one’s life.The highest good (eudaimonia) is achieved if a humanbeing is able to perform his/herergon(function) inan excellent way.Thus, human virtue is the excellent use of one’s reasonthroughout one’s life.
ACHIEVING THEEUDAIMONIAEvery act and purpose seem to aim at some good: andso it has been well said that the good is that at whicheverything aims.GOODEND/GOALACTHealthMedicinePassing GradeStudyingCareerWorking?RelationshipFriendship/LoveDegreeEducation
Money, power, physical beauty are onlyinstrumentalgoodbecause they are desired for the sake ofsomething else.Intrinsic goodis the supreme end of every act. Thegood that is desired for the sake of itself. This is whatwe call Happiness.Aristotle said, “man’s good lies in his function”. Man inhis whole nature has a function natural to him as man.The2 ergons(function)§non-rationalnature (appetitive, vegetative)§rationalnature (intellect and character).
It is, therefore, the function ofreason where man’s supreme goodlies, and it is by living rationally thatman achieves happiness.