What do you mean by virtue? How virtue leads to happiness and excellency? Discuss the role of five constituents of Confucius concept of perfect virtue. (250 Words/ 15 Marks)

Mentor’s Comment:

Such questions are the core of ethics paper and are very much straight forward. The question requires you to mention the essence of virtue in own words. Further how it shapes human character which leads to happiness and excellency. Mention that virtuous life gives inner satisfaction of the achievement.

Virtues are dispositional feature of character which makes an individual good. Explain the five concept of Confucius virtues i.e. gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness and kindness. Mention how they lead to good life.

Model Answer:


  • Virtues are habits of mind, heart and behaviour. Virtues are the content of our character, the elements of the human spirit.
  • A morally excellent person has a character made up of virtues valued as good. He or she is honest, respectful, courageous, forgiving and kind committed to doing the right thing no matter what the personal cost and does not bend to impulses, urges or desires, but acts according to values and principles.

Consequences of Virtue in real life:

  • Virtues are universal and recognized by all cultures as basic qualities necessary for our well being and happiness.
  • Happiness consists in achieving, through the course of a whole lifetime, all the goods, health, wealth, knowledge, friends etc. – that led to the perfection of human nature and to the enrichment of human life. This also includes pursuance for excellence. This requires us to make choices, some of which may be very difficult.
  • Virtuous life lead to long term happiness as it gives inner satisfaction of the achievement.

Confucius’ concept of perfect virtue:

  • Virtues are dispositional feature of character which makes an individual good. The Confucius’ concept of perfect virtue includes gravity, generosity of sour, sincerity, earnestness and kindness.
  • Gravity means having a sense of the importance of the matter at hand. It means being observant about graver moments and respecting the feelings and concerns of others. For establishment of good governance this virtue is important as it keeps the civil servant vigilant and anticipates about the problems beforehand and work accordingly for the betterment of common man. This creates a sense of trust between government and common man.
  • Generosity means to give his or her time, energy, money, possession, and knowledge for the benefit or needy ones. When linked to good governance it is about employing resources available to deliver things in a transparent manner. Resource here is not necessarily limited to money, infrastructure and personnel, but ideas, innovation and the ability to decide and implement programmes and policies with accountability.
  • Further establishment of good governance requires sincerity and earnestness from the politico-administrative leadership rather than mere paper planning.
  • Also politico-administrative leadership has to be sensitive and kind to the needs of the individual to bridge the gulf between the service providers and the users. It also helps disentangle differences between the needs and wants of users.
  • Hence, to establishment of good governance, Confucius’ concept of perfect virtue is inevitable.