Virtue and Utility

Virtue and Utility Essay example
High school
Pages 5 (1255 words)
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(Name) (Professor) (Subject) (Date) Virtue and Utility Most of us would not disagree with the notion that happiness is the purpose of all life. Nevertheless, what exactly is happiness and how is it related to the concepts of virtue and pleasure? Is a happy life simply the same as a life of pleasure or is it a life of goodness or virtue?


Aristotle’s and Mill’s philosophies share similarities in terms of application, the greatest good and the requirement for happiness; and they differ when it comes to how happiness can be exactly attained. The philosophies of Aristotle and Mill are similar in that the rightness or wrongness of an action depends on the situation or on the external circumstances. For Aristotle’s virtue ethics, the basis of moral virtues is action and that “we learn by doing them” (Nicomachean Ethics II.1). This means that virtues are never inborn in man except that “we first acquire the potentiality” of doing these virtuous acts (II.1). However, despite this potentiality, there is a need for action. For Aristotle, therefore, one is never a good man unless he does good deeds. Nobody is born good – one has to do good in order to be called good. The Greek philosopher gives an example in the Ethics when he says, “By doing the acts we do in our transactions with other men we become just or unjust” (II.1). This means that no one can be called just or unjust unless he proves this through his dealings with his fellowmen. In the same way, according to John Stuart Mill, the rightness or wrongness of an act is also based on the situation. ...
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