Morality Essay Example



Moral virtues are ideals and or characteristics that help to define oneself and ultimately help to shape society. Moral virtues are important because they help define what some may find morally correct. However according to Aristotle, it is important to accurately analyze the situation in order to come up with the best solution. The purpose of this paper is to examine Aristotle's account of the virtues of character, explain Hill Jr.’s view of character defects and how action ultimately defines one’s character, and discuss the differences and similarities between Aristotle's and Hill Jr’s view of character.

How Aristotle Saw Moral Virtues

According to Aristotle moral virtues are essential to the development of one’s true character. Aristotle believes that ethics is a moral device that can be used to achieve a higher means. He states that the purpose of ethics is to figure out how to ultimately achieve happiness ( Aristotle, et al.) He proceeds to refer to virtue as a disposition rather than activity.  For example courage consists of confidence in the face or fear. To further expand on this idea, if one chooses to perform in a show in front of a significantly sized audience one may be afraid ( i.e stage fright). By showing some stage fright one would be considered to be courageous. 

Aristotle also notes that in order for moral virtues to be used properly one must utilize five intellectual virtues which are as follows: scientific knowledge, intuition, wisdom, prudence, and tactical skills ( Aristotle, et al.) Consequently virtue of character is developed by habituation, which is the constant response to a proper situation. Aristotle affirms that while rules may be present, and one may choose to follow them, you are ultimately guided by experiences. If encountering a new situation you refer to social rules or previous that may be relevant to the circumstance. All in all Aristotle believes that experience and social rules can help guide oneself and the development of their character. 

Identically Hill Jr also notes that virtues (character traits) are important. However Hill Jr’s application of virtues is derived from how one interacts with the environment. He states that the destruction of nature should make one feel morally uneasily. He states “ upgrading the natural environment rules best present and future generation of much potential use and enjoyment “. He affirms that it’s inappropriate for one to destroy the environment for their own selfish purposes and acknowledges that some may “ appeal to certain religious beliefs” in order to soothe their moral discomfort (Hill Jr’s 6). In his essay Hill notes two causes that he believes will motivate one to become a better person. He argues that animals depend on the environment and if that is not enough to motivate one to care, he persuades one to further think about how plants are needed for human life. 

Essentially Hill believes that if one does not respect the environment and if one’s actions further amplify your lack of respect, it can be deduced that one lacks proper morals and can be deemed as immoral. He even goes as far to state that one’s character may be lacking, and perhaps one suffers from immaturity. Hill views one’s actions as immoral and ultimately attributes a singular action/ incident to their personality (and or character) as a whole. He contemplates how one can be a good person and not see something wrong with their immoral  actions ( such as littering).  Hill does however acknowledge that it can be possible that one may not be an immoral person, but rather naive about the implications of their actions. He further explains that it is feasible that one may be “short sighted“ and not fully realize the seriousness of their actions (Hill Jr’s 16).

Aristotle however, believes that one’s character or one’s moral value is derived from experience and guidelines that one creates for themselves. Similarly Hill Jr also supports this notion. He believes that environmentalism is something that is not only socially acceptable but is also something that is socially moral by society’s standards (Hill Jr 5). Hill Jr’s believes that it’s necessary for one to follow social rules in order to be deemed a reputable person in society. 

However Hill Jr’s beliefs contrast with Aristotle’s in the sense that one bad action can define you. Aristotle believes that reaction and application of certain virtues depend on the circumstances. Thus Aristotle emphasizes that situation is more impactful for determining moral virtue than actions. Be that as it may, Hill Jr believes that one’s actions are the basis of their character. He affirms the notion that anyone who is willing to disregard the environment, demonstrates a lack of self awareness ( Hill Jr 19). 

Works Cited

Hill, Thomas E. “Ideals of Human Excellence and Preserving Natural Environments .” Ideals of Human Excellence and Preserving Natural Environments, www.shodor.org/ncssm/elc/content/attachments/EnvironmentalEthics-Hill.pdf.

“Nicomachean Ethics.” The Internet Classics Archive | Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle, classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/nicomachaen.html.