Becoming a Virtue Ethicist: A Detailed Guide

Becoming a Virtue Ethicist: A Detailed Guide

Are you interested in delving into the world of virtue ethics and exploring the principles that govern moral character and behavior? In this comprehensive guide, we will cover all you need to know about becoming a virtue ethicist, including the key concepts, historical background, and practical tips for applying virtue ethics in your daily life. Whether you are a student of philosophy or simply curious about ethical theories, this guide will provide you with a solid foundation in virtue ethics.

Understanding Virtue Ethics

Virtue ethics is a branch of ethical theory that focuses on the character of the individual as the key to determining moral behavior. Unlike other ethical theories that focus on rules, consequences, or duties, virtue ethics looks at the inherent virtues or character traits that make a person good or virtuous.

Origins of Virtue Ethics

Virtue ethics can be traced back to ancient Greek philosophy, particularly to the works of Aristotle. Aristotle believed that the goal of human life is to achieve eudaimonia, or flourishing, and that virtues are the key to achieving this goal. He identified virtues such as courage, temperance, and wisdom as essential for living a good life.

Key Concepts in Virtue Ethics

  1. Virtues: Virtues are character traits that enable individuals to act in morally good ways. These virtues are acquired through practice and habituation.
  2. Eudaimonia: Eudaimonia is often translated as "happiness" or "flourishing", and is the ultimate goal of life according to virtue ethics.
  3. The Golden Mean: Aristotle believed that virtues are the golden mean between two extremes. For example, courage is the mean between cowardice and recklessness.
  4. Phronesis: Phronesis, or practical wisdom, is the ability to discern the right course of action in a given situation.

Comparison with other Ethical Theories

Virtue ethics differs from other ethical theories in several key ways. Unlike deontological ethics, which focuses on duties and obligations, virtue ethics prioritizes the character of the individual. Similarly, virtue ethics places less emphasis on rules and consequences than consequentialist theories like utilitarianism. Instead, virtue ethics focuses on cultivating virtuous character traits that lead to moral behavior.

Developing Virtuous Character Traits

In order to become a virtue ethicist, it is essential to focus on developing virtuous character traits. This involves identifying virtues, cultivating virtuous habits, and overcoming vices.

Identifying Virtues

The first step in developing virtuous character traits is to identify the virtues you wish to embody. Virtues are positive traits or qualities that are considered morally good and desirable. Some common virtues include honesty, kindness, courage, and humility. Reflect on your own values and beliefs to determine which virtues are most important to you.

Cultivating Virtuous Habits

Once you have identified the virtues you want to cultivate, the next step is to develop virtuous habits that will help you embody these traits in your daily life. This may involve setting specific goals for yourself, practicing mindfulness and self-reflection, and seeking out opportunities to act in accordance with your chosen virtues.

Overcoming Vices

In addition to cultivating virtuous habits, it is also important to work on overcoming vices that may be hindering your ability to develop virtuous character traits. Vices are negative traits or behaviors that are considered morally bad or harmful. Common vices include greed, envy, laziness, and dishonesty. Identify any vices that you struggle with and make a conscious effort to address and overcome them through self-awareness, self-discipline, and seeking support from others.

By focusing on developing virtuous character traits, identifying virtues, cultivating virtuous habits, and overcoming vices, you can become a virtue ethicist and lead a more fulfilling and morally virtuous life.

Applying Virtue Ethics in Everyday Life

Virtue ethics is a philosophical approach that focuses on developing good character traits and virtues to guide one’s actions and decisions. In everyday life, this means being conscious of how our actions align with these virtues and striving to cultivate them in ourselves.

Making Ethical Decisions

When faced with a moral dilemma, virtue ethicists consider what a virtuous person would do in that situation. This involves reflecting on one’s character traits, values, and the potential consequences of different actions. By aligning our decisions with virtuous principles, we can make ethical choices that promote personal growth and well-being.

Building Relationships based on Virtue

Virtue ethics emphasizes the importance of cultivating virtuous relationships based on trust, respect, and mutual understanding. By embodying virtues such as honesty, compassion, and integrity, we can build strong and meaningful connections with others. These relationships are essential for personal growth and moral development.

Resolving Ethical Dilemmas

Ethical dilemmas often arise when our values or principles conflict with each other. In such situations, virtue ethicists suggest reflecting on our character traits and virtues to guide our decision-making process. By focusing on developing virtuous habits and behaviors, we can navigate ethical dilemmas with integrity and moral clarity.


In conclusion, embracing virtue ethics is a transformative journey that requires self-reflection, moral reasoning, and a commitment to cultivating virtuous character traits. By following the detailed guide outlined in this article, individuals can begin to understand the principles of virtue ethics and apply them to their daily lives. Through practicing virtues such as honesty, compassion, and integrity, individuals can strive towards becoming virtuous ethicists who make ethical decisions based on moral excellence and character development. Ultimately, embracing virtue ethics can lead to a more fulfilling and meaningful life, both personally and professionally.