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What is virtue ethics? Can knowledge be equated with virtue? Discuss.

Topic : Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in-human actions; dimensions of ethics; ethics – in private and public relationships. Human Values – lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators; role of Family society and educational institutions in inculcating values.

6. What is virtue ethics? Can knowledge be equated with virtue? Discuss. (250 words)

Reference: Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude by Lexicon Publications

Why the question:

The question is based on the theme of virtue ethics.

Key Demand of the question:

Explain in detail the concept of virtue ethics and discuss if virtue ethics can be equated to knowledge.


Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:


Define virtue ethics.


A virtue is generally agreed to be a character trait, such as a habitual action or settled sentiment. Specifically, a virtue is a positive trait that makes its possessor a good human being. Thus, Virtue Ethics is an approach that emphasizes an individual’s character as the key element of ethical thinking, rather than rules about the acts themselves (Deontology) or their consequences (Consequentialism).

According to Socrates, virtue is knowledge, because: (1) all living things aim for their perceived good; and therefore (2) if anyone does not know what is good, he cannot do what is good — because he will always aim for a mistaken target; but (3) if someone knows what is good, he will do what is good, because he will aim for what is good. But difficulty is that it is not so easy to know what is good.

At this moment the importance of knowledge come up because ignorance is one of the most important reasons for human foolishness.


Conclude that as rightly said by Plato, a good decision is based on knowledge and not on numbers and good people do not need laws, to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws. However virtue includes experience and knowledge both.