(a) What is virtue ethics? Can knowledge be equated with virtue?
• A virtue is generally agreed to be a character trait, such as a habitual action or settled
sentiment. Specifically, a virtue is a positive trait that makes its possessor a good human
being. Thus, Virtue Ethics is an approach that emphasizes an individual’s character as the
key element of ethical thinking, rather than rules about the acts themselves (Deontology) or
their consequences (Consequentialism).
• According to Socrates, virtue is knowledge, because: (1) all living things aim for their perceived good; and therefore (2) if anyone does not know what is good, he cannot do what is good — because he will always aim for a mistaken target; but (3) if someone knows what is good, he will do what is good, because he will aim for what is good. But difficulty is that it is not so easy to know what is good.
• At this moment the importance of knowledge come up because ignorance is one of the most important reason for human foolishness.
• As rightly said by Plato, a good decision is based on knowledge and not on numbers and
good people do not need laws, to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a
way around the laws. However virtue include experience and knowledge both.
(b) Give the argument supporting self-control as a master virtue? How the failed-control is evident in the ‘social sin’?
• Self control has been defined as the “restraint exercised over one’s own impulses, emotions, or desires”. These three: impulses, emotions, and desires must be put in subjection to maintain peace and harmony in his life.
• Using self-control, one may resist temptation, refocus attention, alter a mood or emotional state, overcome fatigue, or in other ways change one’s states or actions. As a capacity for altering responses, self-control contributes greatly to the flexibility and diversity of human behaviour.
• Self-control can be considered as the master virtue, as it is necessary for people to be able to behave virtuously and avoid vice or sin.
• The failed control is evident in the social sins such as:
(a) The first, gluttony, refers to overeating and possibly engaging in other pleasures to excess. Failure to regulate eating behavior is a classic example of a lack of self-control.
(b) People also need self-control to overcome sloth, or laziness.
(c) Greed, lust, and envy have to do with excessive striving after the inappropriate goals
of money, sexual satisfaction, and the possessions or advantages of others. When the
desire for these inappropriate goals arises, people must exert self-control in order to override the urge to act in pursuit of the goal.
(d) Self-control is required to override the impulse to act sinfully out of anger, such as
• For the maintenance of self-control, people must have a standard, a conception of what they ought to do for proper monitoring of their own behavior.