October 13, 2018
When faced with resolving ethical problems or dilemmas there are many moral choices to pick from. Kant’s moral approach is one of duty, law and freedom of will. That interests and desires are irrelevant. He also believes that intent is what matters and consequences don’t. However Mills moral theories are based on maximize the greatest good, to increase pleasure and happiness, and lastly reduce pain and suffering. Mill states that “actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness.” Then there is Aristotle, he believed that, “Every art and every inquiry and similarly every action and pursuit, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim.” (page 139) Aristotle would say virtue does not appear naturally; it must be learned through experiences. Through those various experiences, we learn to assess each situation and determine what the particular mean of the appropriate passion or action is for us. At the same time, we develop character. Character which helps us determine the right actions in the right amounts. As we continuously aim at fulfillment, we develop a habit of exhibiting moral virtue; thus, becoming virtuous. He goes on discussing happiness and the “complete life” again all things that we want and desire. I believe that Aristotle’s approach would be best suited for resolving an ethical problem or dilemma. The reason being is that Aristotle is all about virtues, that everything has a purpose, and he says that virtues will bring us the most happiness in life.
One major difference between Aristotle’s and Kant’s theories are that, Aristotle’s theory is all about using the mind in accordance with virtue to live a happy life, whereas Kant’s uses practical reason, not impulses or desires, to achieve the proper state of human existence. Then Mills believed that man’s purpose in life is to find pleasure, and the greatest good there was to his happiness. In contrast, where Aristotle believed that man must complete his function in life in order to be happy. Mills and Aristotle both agreed on one aspect of happiness, that in order to attain true happiness, man should be engaging in activities that are distinct to humans. The major difference between Held and Aristotle is, Held’s theory is focused on emotion and responsibility for others and is centered around relationships, particularly relationships of a caretaker and their dependent. Whereas Aristotle, believes that happiness is the highest good and the end at which all our activities ultimately aim. All our activities aim at some end, though most of these ends are means toward other ends, that virtue will make the most of our lives.
The reason I think Aristotle’s approach will be helpful at solving ethical problems or dilemmas is because when you are dealing with any issue there is always a lesson to be learned and by your habits, understanding you will gain from it. Aristotle’s theory highlights that in the idea that character we must accompany acts of virtue and that we are constantly working to make good decisions, gaining wisdom and aiming to live well. There is no inactivity in this, and there is no rule to tell us what to do. Instead, we figure it out through our experiences or by what we learn from others’ experiences.
Some might argue as to say virtue is not the real way to solve these problems or dilemmas. An example would be someone who might argue that virtue ethics is ambiguous and suggest it is better for moral theories to have principles or rules that help guide a person’s action. A person may be keen on the idea of living well but fails to reach the intermediate of passions and actions. Like Kant states that we must do what is right and act as moral beings based on duty not on feelings. Like in Kant’s “Categorical Imperative” it follows three ideas: first, that you should only act so that the maximum of your action could be like a universal law followed by everyone. Secondly, that you should only act so that the maximum of your action could be like a law of nature. And thirdly, that you should only act so as to treat others as ends only never as mere means (Pre-pod cast Kant and O’neil). Kant uses the example of if someone needs to borrow money from another person and promises to pay it back knowing that he cannot commit to this promise but goes along with deal anyway is not permissible because if a universal law stated that promises could be made with no intention of keeping them then the value of a promise would be destroyed. Kant’s ideas are so rigid and cold, whereas Aristotle would say there is always something to gain from your experience, that you can find good virtues in any life lesson. That there is no laws and only experiences to learn from and good habits to gain you good virtues.
My moral issue that I posted about was that I work in a nursing home and that most of them are eighty five and older and have come to terms with death. As I am someone who gets attached to people and care to much about them. When one day I come to work and find out that to of my favorite people have passed away. And that I was hurt knowing that I would never see them or their families. And that I would no longer be able to help them, and also I have a hard time separating myself. Aristotle would say that I could gain from this experience and learn from it. That to constantly work to get better and to make better decisions. To continue to help and gain wisdom, to know when to separate myself. To know that I am touching there lives and by doing that what brings me joy, I am aiming to live better.
My conclusion being, that ethical problems and dilemmas are going to be constant in your life. And that Aristotle’s thinking and views are the best way I think to deal with them. He believes that everything in life there are lessons to be learned, that their is understanding and gaining from them. That finding morality is based on living in accordance with virtue, being good by doing good.