The definitions attached to the term virtue - and the underlying concept therein - are as diverse as the various discussion platforms employed in discussing and developing it. To effectively discuss the topic and concept of virtue, it is imperative effective definitions be provided as the background through which these discussions are developed. Although it was birthed from the ancient Greek and Latin civilization, the concept of virtue has a great impact on the modern day society (Aristotle, Ross, Ackrill & Urmson).One of the simplest – and most effective – definitions of virtue presents it as moral excellence. By utilizing this definition, it is important to define and expound two important elements; morals, and excellence. Established as the root element in the concept of morality, morals are the foundations – both in actions and thought processes – through which a person is able to differentiate decisions, actions, and intentions between those that qualify as good and those that qualify as bad. In discussing morality, it is important to underscore the fact that morality can be presented as a body of principles or standards which are birthed out of the code of conduct contained in a specific religion, culture, or philosophy. In most – if not all – discussion platforms, morality is employed synonymously with righteousness or goodness (Aristotle, Ross, Ackrill & Urmson). One of the simplest and most profound definitions of excellence presents it as a quality or talent which is exceptionally good thus surpassing ordinary standards. It is important to note that excellence is not a state; it is a like a moving target that continuously requires the constant employment and upgrading of different principles and standards. With these in mind – morality and excellence – virtue can be presented as the continuous upgrading and or improvement of the moral standards possessed by an individual or party (Aristotle, Ross, Ackrill & Urmson).
There are numerous flaws that exist with regards to the modern view of virtue. One of the greatest questions that shape up the analysis on the challenges facing the modern view of morality is; why should we care? Asked to the modern society, this question is not only an interrogation with regards to a person’s level of moral excellence, but an effective tool through which an individual can reflect on virtue in both the short term and the long term. Personally, this question challenges me to not only take the initiative of caring, but invest in understand the underlying principles that define caring and other similar interactions (Vitz). In the modern society, it is evident to note that the moral choices by individuals infuse most – if not all – aspects of their lives both consciously and unconsciously. Personally, I am challenged to not only invest in the conscious moral choices I make, but also in the unconscious decisions. In the modern society, a great number of the moral decisions made by individuals are bad decisions. Such decisions are the underlying reasons behind the constant overflow in the prison numbers as well as high levels of recidivism in the society (Vitz). The number of radical ideologies is growing and so is the number of dead people from war and war related activities. The rampant cheating being experienced in universities and schools is also the result of ill advised moral choices. Where education ethics are concerned, I am challenged to ensure that what I deliver to the best of my ability and within the expected standards (Vitz).
Within the modern society, it is evident to note that there are numerous negative effects birthed out of bad moral choices. These effects range from the increase violent crimes, murder, divorce, cheating, and corruption to sexism, ageism, racism, bias, and discriminations. With the ever increasing cases birthed out of immorality, I have personally dedicated my life to not only understanding this topic, but also sensitizing those around me to make wise and informed decisions where morality is concerned (Vitz).
Another important question presented in the analysis of the challenges facing modern perceptions on virtue is; what is the problem with our moral standards? Here, the most effective answer is; the question of moral problems is not provided with the right quantity and quality of attention. Whenever people in the modern society focus on the topic of virtue, it is mostly for the wrong reasons. Moral problems are not provided with the nature and level of attention they require and due to this, they are continually growing and this is evident in the number of negative effects within the society. Personally, I am challenged to invest excellently in the topic of morality as it undergirds the entire concept of virtue. Here, the element of quantity investment is as equally important as quality investment (Kateb & John).
Within the confinements of modern society, the reward system has been recalibrated to focus on rewarding material progress as opposed to moral progress. Today, people are ready, willing, and waiting to applaud material progress but there are minimal – if any – people who focus on moral progress. Due to this – shift in attention, perspective, and standards – the number of negative effects associated with immorality is constantly growing. Personally, this challenges me to not only invest in understanding the factors undergirding the shift in attention, perspective, and standards of morality, but also invest in altering my individual perception on morality and using this as the tool through which I impact those around me (Aristotle, Ross, Ackrill & Urmson).
Modern society is designed to view and practice morality through defined rules and regulations. Morality that is founded on rules and regulations – especially in practice – does not accomplish the full intention of morality (Kateb & John).To effectively achieve the goal of morality and be a virtuous person one is expected to move from the realm where they practice morality as ascribed by the different rules and regulations, and get to a point where they understand the main reasons and goals presented in the various rules and regulations. It is impossible for a virtuous person, in their day to day undertaking and thought processes, to go outside what is stipulated in the moral and ethical rules and regulations (Kateb & John).This is because a virtuous person exists in a level where the background of rules and regulations are establishing. Personally, I am challenged to invest in more than following the various rules and regulations I am provided with. I need to get to a point where I understand the background of rules and regulations throughout expounding my knowledge on morality. This investment will transform me from a mere follower of rules and regulations to a virtuous person; able to differentiate the importance of rules and regulations from the structure and goals of living a virtuous life. Understanding virtue is important as it provides great insights on morality and how an individual can ensure their intentions, actions, and decisions are in line virtuous living (Kateb & John).
Aristotle, W D. Ross, J L. Ackrill, and J O. Urmson. The Nicomachean Ethics. Oxford
(Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 2014. Print.
Kateb, George, and John E. Seery. George Kateb: Dignity, Morality, Individuality. , 2014. Print.
Vitz, Rico. Reforming the Art of Living: Nature, Virtue, and Religion in Descartes's
Epistemology. , 2014. Print.
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