Social and Political Sciences
12 July 2020
In a world where ideals, opinions and principles greatly differ, tolerance has always been deemed noble. That notwithstanding, some cultural practices harbor no room for tolerance. Imagine the case of a 16-year old girl in some remote village in the Africa who is made to drop out of school, undergoes genital mutilation and later gets married off as a third wife to the area chief. Do the perpetrators of such acts require tolerance? Don’t these retrogressive traditions require purging? In a nutshell, tolerance of unreasonable and backward traditions should be considered high treason.
“A theory of virtue ethics should have: a statement, a list of the virtues, an account of what they consist, and an explanation of why they are good. The theory should tell us whether the virtues are the same for all people” (Rachels 161). These conditions are important for distinguishing virtue from vice.
The Aristotelian concept of virtue discussed what makes a person good. In this case, virtues revolved around “courage, self-control, generosity, and truthfulness” (Rachels 159). In this concept only a person who portrayed such traits was considered virtuous.
Moral motivation is one of the advantages of virtue ethics. In the example of American philosopher Michael Stocker (1940–), the principle of basing our actions on what is right or reasonable is lacking (Rachels 169-170). Humans need actions of intimate nature, based on love and respect, not mere moral obligation. Doubts about the “ideal” of impartiality is another advantage of virtue ethics. In some cases, partiality such as “a mother to her children,” can be allowed as mandatory exceptions to the rule (Rachels 170-171).
According to Rachels, “Radical Virtue Ethics is limited to platitudes” (Rachels 172-173). This implies that they have the issue of incompleteness. Virtue ethics are vague in nature as they do not assist in deciding the best course of action where a choice is necessary. In this case, I agree with Rachels that, despite the fact that Radical Virtue Ethics give us a list of do’s that are all good things, they leave a lot to imagination.