virtue ethics

A branch of philosophical ethics that concerns itself with character and human flourishing.

Modern ethical philosophy can be roughly organized into three general tendencies:

  1. deontological ethics, which attempts to discover and justify the rules by which people must govern their actions in order to be living correctly (Kant famously took this on as his project)
  2. consequentialist ethics, which claims we need to be concerned with the anticipated results of our actions, and choose those actions which we anticipate will produce the best results using some metric (Peter Singer is a popular modern exponent of this point of view)
  3. virtue ethics, which asserts that there are certain habitual character traits that we ought to cultivate in order to live life well (this wiki lends itself best to this approach)

Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics is usually cited as the granddaddy of the virtue ethics tradition. The deontological and consequentialist branches eventually overtook it and displaced virtue ethics in European philosophy, but virtue ethics has recently had a revival.

See also: