1. Identify the main pros and cons of a virtue ethics approach?
The virtue ethics approach is a theory that suggests that people are judged via their character, not specific actions. An individual who has developed good character traits (virtues) is judged as a morally good person. An individual who has developed bad character traits (vices) is judged as a morally bad person. Most of us have a mixture or virtues and vices. There are many pros and cons linked to this approach. The pros include
a. Emphasis on pleasure and emotion – it is good that we should enjoy acting virtuously
b. Moral education – being moral is a developmental process
c. Consideration of life as a whole – “One swallow does not make a spring” (Aristotle, 1976)
d. No decision procedure – moral decision making is too complicated to have a single criterion for decision
a. It Offers no solution to specific moral dilemmas
b. Not everyone has the equal opportunity to develop morally – do we judge them the same?
c. Many non-virtuous people live happy lives, many virtuous people are miserable
d. Cultural relativism – whose virtues are best?
e. We recognise that some non-virtuous people are useful in our society; life would be dull without them
2. What are the strengths of using a virtue ethics approach to resolve your case study?
One of the desirability of virtue ethics is the elasticity to measure each situation independently, searching for action guidance in bearing in mind what a naturally virtuous person would do. This would be clarified and informed by the pertinent facts and personal ethical sensitivities of that situation. This permits and heartens creative resolutions to very difficult problems, which may be harder to discover when affecting rules and principles. For example, the adult patient in our case was diagnosed wrongly for a certain condition and subsequently treated using the wrong diagnosis. She trusts the original diagnosis and refuses a second treatment. The hospital is an institution that should be careful since it is trusted. Medical staffs are usually accorded with virtues like compassion and trustworthiness. Looking at these facts, the moral assessment might be quite different. The doctors may deduce that a different course of action would be virtuous.
3. What are the limitations / disadvantages of using this approach?
The approach offers no solution to the specific moral dilemma within this case. The difficulty with virtue ethics is that it does not openly specify which deeds are virtuous. What may appear virtuous to one individual may not be to the next. Everybody has their own suggestion of virtue in whichever circumstances once it is assessed, and even if they act with good objectives, it may not bring out the best in the circumstances.
4. A. For your critique use your own experience of applying virtues PLUS what does the literature say?
B. Does the literature support your assessment of the approach? (REFERENCED) put reference one for A and B
If for instance, an adult patient was a 19 year old born into a Jehovah’s Witness community who felt a compulsion to make choices anchored in his parents’ faith scheme while not truthfully believing it, the moral appraisal may be rather changed. The doctor may presume that an altered course of action would be virtuous. By being compassionate, the doctor would envisage what it must be like to be a person who is prepared to risk death because of the sincerity and devotion to their faith. She is probable to distinguish the bravery of her patient, which consecutively may incite feelings of admiration and respect. Rachels, J & Rachels, S, 2007)
5. Report discussion
It is evident from the report that there was a consensus on certain virtues attributed to the doctor, physiotherapist, and psychologist. Most of the people (17 out of 18) surveyed claimed doctors should employ the virtue of empathy as she responds to a patient especially with back pain. With respect to physiotherapists, three virtues recommended by most people surveyed were respect (15 0f 16) followed by understanding, caring and compassion (10 of 16). Those recommended to a psychologists were patience, trustworthiness (both recommended by 13 of 14 people) and compassion (10 of 14). However, in all the three surveys taken compassion tends to stand out with the individuals recommending it throughout. From my own recommendations, I chose honesty for the doctor, honesty, kindness, and respect to the Physiotherapist and Modesty, Trustworthiness and understanding to the Psychologist. I could say from the comparison, my virtues were different except for trustworthiness and understanding.
From data, one can realize that in the virtue ethics approach people are judged via their character, not specific actions. The doctor is expected to have empathy, because she is a doctor. The Psychologist on the other hand is supposed to exhibit patience, trustworthiness, and compassion. Individuals are characterized by actions. It also evident that Virtue-based ethical theories put less stress on which rules individuals should pursue and in its place centre on helping individuals grow good character traits. These traits will, sequentially, permit a person to formulate the accurate choices later on in life. In other words, the virtues allocated to the professionals are such that they can help them make important decisions to help save lives of people.
The virtue ethics approach differs with other frameworks in that; it is not an ethical theory in the same way that Utilitarianism or Kantianism are, It is not so much a guide for moral decision-making, more a description of the moral life. Theories such as Utilitarianism and Kantianism address the question “How should I act?” – Virtue Theory addresses the questions “How should I live my life?”, and “What kind of person should I be?”It is interested in the whole person, not just their actions.
Aristotle (1976). Ethics (revised edition). Translated by J.A.K. Thomson. Middlesex: Penguin Books, page 104
Rachels, J & Rachels, S (2007). The Elements of Moral Philosophy. (Fifth Ed.)
McGraw Hill: Boston.