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Kant Vs. Virtue Ethics

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Kant Vs. Virtue Ethics

When we talk about whether or not a person is ethically right, we can look at the actions that he or she may partake in. These actions maybe studied in different situations such as the one that we were told to evaluate. While leaving the grocery store, one witnesses an old man struggling with his oxygen tank. Without thinking, you lift the tank and help the elderly man. This action is a kind gesture, but would we consider this a moral act? One could analyze this situation with two different ethical theories, by Kantian and/or Aristotelian views.

The approach that we take with Kant's views is strictly based on reason. The key factor in this situation with Kant would ask if we did this action without any thought. Because Kant heavily argues that a moral person has to be rational, the thought process that you went through to arrive to the action is needed and very important. With this in mind we need to look at the other key concepts of his theory. With every action we take, we need to consider whether or not we are willing to say that it could be turned into a universal law. This law would then have to apply to everyone and there would be no exceptions. He believes that we should not lie in any circumstance. We need to maintain the no exception policy because it helps with the consistency of this theory. Most of Kant's beliefs are also based on duties to one another, ourselves, etc. We have a strict duty to benefit towards other people. We should strive to promote their welfare or as he says, "respect their rationality."

He might ask, "What was your intention when you decided to do this?" In this situation there was no intention. You just acted how you would normally if a situation like this occurred. It took no thought at all. This would not fall under a moral action for Kant. You were merely doing your duty towards another human being. This situation would be different if you had a reason of why you helped him out. If you had been a politician and the main goal was to get the elderly population's vote, then this would be a motive and would possess reason behind your action. (This is not saying whether or not the action was moral or not.)

On the other hand, Aristotle would take a different approach. Aristotle believed in virtue ethics. This type of theory bases all on moderation. It also asks the question of what makes a person moral, instead of what acts are moral. Reason is directly correlated with a virtue that we have become accustom to. When evaluating this situation, we have to ask, "What is a virtue?" Virtues are traits of a person's character that are habitual actions that are good for that particular person to possess. We also need to know character traits of the virtue. These character traits consist of things like

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