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Terms in this set (43)

As Phelan states, this argument is a reductio ad absurdum. It puts up three possibilities for what virtues are and reduces these options to the least absurd option. However, just because the other three options (passions and faculties) are not what virtues are, it doesn't mean that virtues must be dispositions. How do we know these are the only three alternatives?
H.A. Prichard complained that Aristotle justifies morality by saying it is in your interest to be virtuous and that it will be pleasurable, not that it is your duty and you just should be moral for the sake of doing what is right. Aristotle's claim that all actions aim at happiness and we get pleasure out of acting morally suggests we act virtuously out of self-interest. Is altruism possible then? Do we sometimes sacrifice our own happiness for some other end or goal? (One may argue that even when we sacrifice our desires to help others we get happiness from this anyway. Thus, even altruistic acts are still aimed at our own happiness).
If people get pleasure out of doing the right thing do they deserve any praise for it? Don't we normally praise people who do the right thing when it is actually hard for them to do it and where they sacrifice their own pleasure?
Aristotle also suggests that one is not moral if they do the right thing but they really wanted to do something else but surely all that matters is that they did the right thing and put there own interests aside? Would we really say someone was virtuous if they visited their rather unpleasant and mean sick relative in hospital but they really wanted to go to the football instead?
Is there anyone who exemplifies this type of virtuous person or is it an unrealistic ideal? Is there anyone who always or even normally gets pleasure out of being moral and avoiding extremes? Would such a person be a fun, normal person? The philosopher Susan Woolfe argues that no one would want to be a moral saint because the ideals of morality outlined by most philosophers are undesirable. She says such people would be socially incompetent and boring? Is this true of either Aristotle's or Plato's ideas of morality?
The mean is difficult to work out in some moral situations. It is not obvious what the mean is? This makes Aristotle's theory impractical and it is meant to be a guide for how to live. He doesn't really tell us anything new. Saying that we should do the right thing, at the right time, with the right person, etc. is just telling us to be moral but not really telling us how to be moral. He has not told us the thing that ethicists want to know, which is how to calculate the mean action?
These moral virtues involve being able to control our emotions and feelings. Can we actually control our feelings, such as anger? Isn't this a bodily response and how can we control what our body does and feels?
This means that one can have immoral feelings and emotions, as well as immoral actions. It may be immoral to be bitter, angry or jealous in some situations, as well as immoral not to be bitter, angry or jealous in situations where one should be. For example, if we think anger is the correct response to animal cruelty, a person who doesn't care about an animal being tortured may be immoral even if they don't actually do anything cruel to animals themselves. Are we morally responsible for our emotions and does it matter what we feel as long as we act in the right way? This contrasts, Consequentialist theories like Utilitarianism, where all that matters is that we act in the right way and that our actions produce good consequences.
Isn't Aristotle's theory just subjectivism or relativism, which means that everyone can basically do whatever they want because the mean is relative to each person? For example, can't one say that the mean amount of anger for them in a given situation is more than it is for others because they are naturally hot tempered or have high levels of testosterone?