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Bennett, Frederick Joseph.
The virtuoso human :
h [electronic resource] /
b a virtue ethics model based on care
by Frederick Joseph Bennett.
[Tampa, Fla] :
University of South Florida,
Title from PDF of title page.
Document formatted into pages; contains 107 pages.
(M.A.)--University of South Florida, 2011.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.
ABSTRACT: The goal of this thesis is to develop the foundation and structure for a virtue ethics theory grounded in a specific notion of care. While there has been a recent revival of interest in virtue ethics theory, the theory has its roots in Aristotle's work as well in the medieval writings of Thomas Aquinas. Aquinas worked out many of Aristotle's ideas in much more detail. However, while Aquinas offers a very rich and compelling ethical theory, it is problematic because it is very tightly wrapped in his theology. A key component in Aquinas's theory is charity. Charity is one of Aquinas's theological virtues, which express the relationship between humans and God. Charity is the love of God and of neighbor and he construes it as the foundation for all the other virtues. My thesis explores the idea of replacing charity with the virtue of care. The virtue of care to be used in this essential role is primarily based on recent work on the ethics of care by Nel Nodding. The virtue of care, as I develop it, combines three interrelated parts: instinctive, maternal and relational care. By comparing and contrasting care and charity, I demonstrate that the virtue of care can fill the role of charity. In this capacity care can serve as a naturalistic foundation for a virtue ethics theory. Since the ethics of care is relatively new, it has yet to take shape. I propose building a care-based virtue ethics theory on the structure of Aquinas's theory. This new care-based virtue ethics theory also benefits from utilizing many of the components of Aristotle's theory which are found in Aquinas's work. My argument is that care can fulfill the role of charity in Aquinas's theory. Care-based virtue ethics theory is a completely naturalistic version of Aquinas's virtue ethics theory. My thesis contains both the foundation for this different kind of care-based virtue ethics theory and some direction for future work on revising Aquinas's theory using the virtue of care. The essence of this care-based virtue ethics theory is captured in the notion I outline of a virtuoso human.
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Williams, Thomas .
x Ethics Philosophy
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
The Virtuoso Human: A Virtue Ethics Model Based on Care by Frederick J. Bennett A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Department of Philosophy College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida Major Professor: Thomas Williams, Ph.D. Joanne B. Waugh, Ph.D. Brook J. Sadler, Ph.D. Deni Elliott, Ed.D. Date of Approval: March 28, 2011 Keywords: Aristotle, Aquinas, Noddings, Charity, Unity Copyright 2011, Frederick J. Bennett
i Table of Contents Abstract ii Chapter 1: Introduction 1 Chapter 2: Ethics 4 Virtue Ethics 7 Chapter 3: Aristotles Virtue 15 Borrowing from Aristotle 32 Modern Challenges to Virtue Ethics Theory from Aristotles Work 41 Aquinas and Aristotle 44 Chapter 4: Charity 48 Chapter 5: Care-Based Virtue Ethics Theory 56 The Problem 57 Hypothesis 59 First Principle 63 Care as a Foundation 64 The Virtue of Care 72 Care and Charity 78 Chapter 6: Framework for Care-Based Virtue Ethics 87 Care and the Virtues 87 The Good 89 The Virtuoso Human 91 Practical Wisdom 94 Chapter 7: Conclusion 97 References 101
ii Abstract The goal of this thesis is to develop the foundation and structure for a virtue ethics theory grounded in a specific notion of care. While there has been a recent revival of interest in virtue ethics theory, the theory has its roots in Aristotles wor k as well in the medieval writings of Thomas Aquinas. Aquinas worked out many of Aristotles ide as in much more detail. However, while Aquinas offers a very rich and compelling ethica l theory, it is problematic because it is very tightly wrapped in his theology. A key component in Aquinass theory is charity. Charity is one of Aquinass theologica l virtues, which express the relationship between humans and God. Charity is the love of God and of neighbor and he construes it as the foundation for all the other virtues. My thesis explores the idea of replacing charity with the virtue of care. The virt ue of care to be used in this essential role is primarily based on recent work on the ethi cs of care by Nel Nodding. The virtue of care, as I develop it, combines three interrelated part s: instinctive, maternal and relational care. By comparing and contrasting c are and charity, I demonstrate that the virtue of care can fill the role of charity. In this capa city care can serve as a naturalistic foundation for a virtue ethics theory. Since the ethi cs of care is relatively new, it has yet to take shape. I propose building a care-based virt ue ethics theory on the structure of Aquinass theory. This new care-based virtue ethics theory also benefits from utilizing many of the components of Aristotles theory which are found in Aquinass work. My argument is that care can fulfill the role of charity in
iii Aquinass theory. Care-based virtue ethics theory is a completely natura listic version of Aquinass virtue ethics theory. My thesis contains both the foundation for this different kind of care-based virtue ethics theory and some direction for future work on revisi ng Aquinass theory using the virtue of care. The essence of this care-based virtue ethics theory is captured in the notion I outline of a virtuoso human.
1 Chapter 1: Introduction The intent of this thesis is to develop the foundation and conceptual framework for a virtue ethics theory based on care. I start by extracting components of Aristotles discussion regarding the nature of a virtue in the Nicomachean Ethics and looking at them from a perspective different from his original intent. The second step is to take from Aquinass work certain aspects of his notion of charity and the function it s erves in his theory. Finally, I develop the concept of care as a virtue, based primarily on t he work of Nel Noddings. This notion of care has three connected aspects. First, there is an instinctive element of care related to human animal nature. This instinctive a spect is the basis of a second, more sophisticated notion of care, based on maternal care. Fina lly, maternal care serves as the source of a strong notion of relational care. T hese three concepts form the virtue of care to serve as the foundation of a care-based virt ue ethics theory. I argue that this conception of care functions in a manner similar to how Aqui nas utilizes the virtue of charity in his theory. I then present the outline of a care-based virtue ethics theory which I believe can be constructed around this foundational rol e for care. I propose that this structure is conceptually supported by Aristotle s and Aquinass ethical theories. I argue that a properly conceived virtue ethics theory, based on care, will bot h have structural integrity and be useful. As a theory, it is based on sound principles and logically consistent. Care can be justified as a naturalistic first pri nciple. It can function
2 as a universal foundational principle in a manner similar to aspects of Aquinas s charity. With care in the role of charity, it will then be possible to reworked Aquinass theor y as a wholly naturalistic theory. The virtue of care also integrates well with, and enhances the role Aristotle assigns to his central virtue of prudence, which will mainta in an important role in this care-based virtue ethics theory. However, the most important aspect of this care-based virtue ethics theory is found in is its application. In combination with the mechanics of certain parts of Aristotles and Aquinass virtue ethics theo ries, care can be a powerful aid in moral decision making and taking action. I propose that the virtue of care can provide strong motivation for ethical behavior. It can be easily under stood and applied to specific moral situations. The virtue of care can be taught and habit uated in the manner of an Aristotelian moral virtue. However, more than simply being ta ught, care can be instilled in children. Aquinas conceives charity as something whic h is infused into an individual. I believe that this conception of charity can provide a ve ry useful analogy related to how care can be instilled into an individual. While my intent is to develop the outline for an ethical theory, I also suggest certain areas where it may be possible to address moral development. In this t hesis, I focus on a very narrow area of the recent literature surrounding the ethics of ca re. There are many different books and articles that I do not have the space to examine herei n, which explore aspects of the connection between care and moral education. In addi tion, I do not make a specific argument for every possible issue which may be encountered along the way. I do point in directions worthy of exploring in more depth in the future. For example, I do not endeavor to provide a specific and comprehensive list of virtues or do a detailed examination of the relationship between care and specific virtues. Rather,
3 one direction worthy of exploring in the future would be the question of the unificat ion of the virtues. Could care, in the place of charity, unify the virtues in a sense simi lar to what Aquinas intends? My focus in this thesis is on the heart of virtue ethics theory w hich is the conceptualization and functioning of the virtues. The central part of this thesi s is to explore how the functions of one particular powerful divine virtue, charity, can be accomplished by a related naturalistic concept, care. Care can play a fundamental role in virtue ethics, similar to aspects of the role Aquinas ascribes to charity i n his discussion of it in the Disputed Questions on the Virtues ( DQV ). Aquinass foundational role for charity is based on his notion of it as (i) the form of the virtues, (ii) their moving cause, and (iii) their root. 1 In using care in this role, in place of charity, it is possible that Aquinass theory can be reworked as naturalistic virtue ethics theory, without t he theological elements. 1 Williams, Thomas and Atkins, E.M., Editors, Thomas Aquinas Disputed Questions on Virtues, 124.
4 Chapter 2: Ethics Up until about 40 years ago, moral theory was dominated by Kantian inspired deontology and utilitarianism based on the work of Bentham and Mill. 1 Both of these theories offer general notions of what constitutes an ethical action. Deontology usually takes its start from the notion that an action is ethical if and only if it is in acc ord with a correct rule or principle. From that point forward different deontological the ories focus on determining the correct rules or principles. Various versions of deontology are constructed around different assumptions regarding how to ground the moral rules. There is usually some form of obligation or duty involved, which requires an individual to follow the rule. Utilitarianism generally takes as its starting point the notion that an action is ethical if and only if it promotes the best consequences. 2 The various utilitarian theories have different principles about how to promote the best consequences and how the best consequences are to be determined. Consequences are often defined as some version of the best outcomes that will make the most people happy in some way. There are many different varieties of both of these theories, with an assortment of different premises and principles. Both theories also have well documented general strengths and weaknesses. One of the primary advantages of these two types of ethical theor ies is that they appear to be easy to use for determining what action an individual should take. A 1 See discussion in the introduction to Rosalind Hurs thouse, On Virtue Ethics 1. 2 See Rosalind Hursthouse, On Virtue Ethics 26.
5 person simply needs to adhere to a rule or he just takes the action which will have t he best consequences. However, this is not as simple as it sounds. It is not easy to find a rule for every situation an individual may encounter. Furthermore, rules always s eem to have exceptions which are determined by circumstances. A rule such as alway s tell the truth might not apply if a person was hiding an innocent person from a potential kille r. The notion of determining the best consequences includes the basic problem of predict ing the future. All of the ramifications of an action can never be foreseen in order t o determine whether or not the best consequences are achieved. The more complex discussions in utilitarianism centers around the problem of determining what a re the best consequences and for whom do they apply These are application problems, referring to the difficulty encountered by an individual when putting the theory to use in taking a specific action. Conceptually, deontological and utilitarian theories also give the appearance of having integrity in their theoretical structures. They both seem to have well grounded first principles and logical consistency. Deontology has a rule book and an individua l follows it. Utilitarianism has measurements of happiness and once the calculus i s done the answer should be apparent. However, as Rosalind Hursthouse points out, both of these ethical theories have problems with their foundational principles and logic al arguments. Deontology must determine which moral rules or principles are the correct ones and the reasoning behind why an individual has a duty or obligation to follow the rule. 1 Utilitarianism must determine what constitutes a good consequence. Also, utilitarian theorists are faced with the problem that different cultures, different 1 Hursthouse, On Virtue Ethics 33.
6 individuals, have different ideas of happiness. 1 It is very difficult to define precisely and correctly that happiness we are supposed to be maximizing. 2 Utilitarian theories also have another more significant problem. Defining what is ethical as the be st consequences or the greatest happiness for the most people opens the door for the possibility that there are no moral prohibitions. If an action makes enough people happ y, it would be considered moral, no matter how abhorrent it may seem. 3 A more serious problem for both of these theories is found in the many different arguments which have been made, by a variety of authors, that some of the major moral failings of the 19 th and 20 th centuries may have occurred as a result of a general reliance on these two approaches to morality. 4 In response to these and other shortcomings of utilitarian and deontological theories, virtue ethics has arisen as a third major ethical approach. Hursthouse poi nts that in the short time since its recent modern revival virtue ethics has acquired full status, recognized as a rival to deontological and utilitarian approaches, as interest ingly and 1 Hursthouse, On Virtue Ethics 34 2 Ibid., 34 3 This oversimplification of the potential problem h as been addressed since the very origins of the theory with Bentham and Mill. As George Sher point s out, at first glance, Mills greatest-happiness principle may seem to imply that society should int erfere with peoples libertied whenever such interference will maximize the overall happiness. Classics of Western Philosophy (2006), 1057, Hackett Publishing Company. However, Mill argues that ther e must be an accounting of justice in the actions so that, for example as he argues in On Liberty the only time a government should exercise power against the will of the individual is when he may harm others. Others like John Austin and Henry Sidgwick have al so made arguments rebutting this claim. 4 This conclusion has been stated in many different ways, but I think Alasdair MacIntyre summarized it well in After Virtue (1984). He captures a possible root of this probl em with the comment that ever since belief in Aristotelian teleology w as discredited moral philosophers have attempted to provide some alternative rational secular account o f the nature and status of morality, but that all t hese attempts, various and variously impressive as they have been, have in fact failed, a failure perceived most clearly by Nietzsche. 256.
7 challengingly different from either as they are from each other. 1 While there are still some who argue that virtue ethics is more a term of art than a viable ethical t heory, the volume of recent literature would indicate that at a minimum it has acquired an impor tant position in the current ethical dialogue. 2 Virtue Ethics Virtue ethics generally refers to an approach to ethics according to w hich the basic judgments in ethics are judgments about character . 3 Character basically refers to a specific collection of traits an individual has which are in the form of dis positions to act. People have different levels of habitual action, ranging from infreque nt mild tendencies to deeply ingrained habitual routines and instinctive like behavior. A character trait is a strong disposition or tendency to act regularly i n a specific manner. Dispositions to act ethically, which have developed into character traits, ar e called virtues. Obviously, virtues are at the center of virtue theory. Different versi ons of virtue ethics theories address various aspects of character and a variety of dif ferent collections 1 Hursthouse, On Virtue Ethics 2. 2 Elizabeth Anscombe is frequently credited with one of the first entries in the modern revival of virtue ethics theory with her 1958 article Modern Moral Philosophy. Martha Nussbaum presents an argument that virtue ethics is not an ethical theor y in general and argues that what is often presente d as a VE theory is actually a confused story. That VE is not a standalone ethical theory nor is it a cohesi ve alternative and is often presented by its proponent s as radically anti-theoretical. Nussbaum, Marth a, Virtue Ethics: A Misleading Category, 164. 3 Statman, Daniel, Virtue Ethics 7. Stateman has a good discussion of this charac terization. He refers to two authors of articles in Virtue Ethics (1997): David Solomon 165 and Peter Simpson, 245. He also refers to discussions by: Schneewind, Jerome B (1990) The Misfortunes of Virtue, Ethics 101, 43; Baier, Kurt (1988) Radical Virtue Ethics,, in French et al ., 127; Slote, Michael (1993) Virtue Ethics and Democratic Values, Journal of Social Philosophy 24, 15; Van Inwagen, Peter (1990) Response to Slot e, Social Theory and Practice 16, 392; Dreier, James (1993) Structures of Normat ive Theories, Monist 76, 34; McDowell, John (1979) Virtue and Reason, Monist 62, 331.
8 of virtues categorized in various ways. One way of understanding the parts of a virtue ethics theory is to think of going in two directions from the central notion of a vi rtue. One part of the theory requires a look upward from the virtue to understand the guiding or central principles of the theory. This involves determining what makes a di sposition a virtue, what excellent dispositions are on the list of ethical virtues and what a per son needs to qualify for having the proper collection for his or her character to be conside red virtuous. The other direction goes downward from the virtue to the action an individual takes and involves determining what actions are ethical and how they emanate from t he virtue. For example, one issues of concern is whether or not virtues can be independent of actions. Can an individual who appears to have the virtue of honesty take a dishonest action in a specific situation? The strongest position, sometimes attribut ed to Aristotle, is that it is not possible for the ethical status of the disposition and the action to be se parate in the fully virtuous person. A virtuous person is someone who has reached the highest level of excellence in his moral dispositions. A person is virtuous if and only if every action they take in the sphere of morality is ethical and comes from his virtue. Anot her associated component of the relation between virtue and action is the notion that it is the virtue, the disposition, which justifies right conduct. An action is virtuous if and only if it is the one done by the virtuous person, from the proper disposition. For example, an action is honest if it is what an honest person would do. What is meant by this distinct ion if that the intent of an individual determines the moral status of the act. If a pers on takes an honest action by accident, or because it will injure another person, it is not consider ed a virtuous action. This facet of the virtuous action is similar in certain as pects to the
9 deontological approach. In deontological theory the agent acts because of the rule. An action is ethical because it is an application of the rule and the agent acts out of a duty t o follow the rule. The outcome of the action does not matter. In deontological theory the rule determines the moral status of the act. In virtue ethics theory the virtu e determines the moral status of the act. Both the virtue and deontological approaches are opposed t o the utilitarian method, where the outcome of the action determines its moral sta tus. If an individual followed the proper rule or acted from a virtue, and due to circumstances outside his control there was a bad result, the action would be unethical in an utilitar ian theory. A virtue ethics theory must address the foundational principles upon which to ca ll a particular, disposition, character trait or collection of traits ethical. In many virtue theories, the virtues generally are thought to derive their justificat ion from the principle that they are necessary for, and possibly constitutive of, the flourishing of the individual and perhaps some form of human societal flourishing in general. 1 The foundation for virtue ethics is also usually built upon a naturalistic element, related to the notion of flourishing. The virtues are part of a characteristically natural fl ourishing human life. As a part of an individuals nature there is some kind of harmony found within the fully virtuous person, so that he does the right thing naturally, without internal conflict. 2 For example, in certain virtue ethics theories, this conflict is considered to be betw een the 1 See Statman, Daniel, Virtue Ethics 8. For this discussion Statman References Hursth ouse (1995), A virtue is a character trait that human b eings, given their physical and psychological natur e, need to flourish (or to do and fare well). 68. 2 See Statman, Daniel, Virtue Ethics 15-16. For this discussion Statman refers to two authors in his Virtue Ethics (1997): Gary Watson, 62-66 and David Solomon, 166, as well as Swanton, Christine (1995) Profiles of the Virtues, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 76, 60; Jerome B. Schneewind, The Misfortunes of Virtue, Ethics, 101 (1990), 43.
10 reasoning part of a person, and his animal or emotional desires. The conflict a nd harmony can take different forms. In addition, the principles of virtue ethics are usually located in the naturalistic world of human experience and require no claim to s ome other realm. However, the notions of flourishing or happiness can vary. For example, Aqui nas classifies Aristotles notion of natural happiness as something earthly and postulated that there is also a divine happiness found in union with God. Other theories have been built on a Platonic type of foundation and ground the virtues or happiness somewhere else, l ike a Kantian realm of ends or Nicolai Hartmanns similar realm of values. 1 This generic synopsis of virtue ethics captures some of the common principles of different approaches to virtue ethics. Much of virtue ethics theory is built on an Aristotelian foundation. There have been a fair number of articles, and books with collections of articles, related to various parts virtue ethics, such as Sta tmans Virtue Ethics (1997), which I have been using as a reference. In addition, many different texts such as Philippa Foots Virtues and Vices and Other Essays in Moral Philosophy (1978) address aspects of virtue ethics and usually relate them to specific e thical problems, such as abortion or euthanasia. While there has been a lot of recent interest in vi rtue ethics, I intend to follow the path set out by Rosalind Hursthouse in her 1998 On Virtue Ethics As she points out, her text was one of the first which explores virtue ethics systematically and at length. 2 Another of the first modern in-depth texts on the subject is Michael Slotes From Morality to Virtue (1992). Slote has more recently added to his 1 See W. H. Werkmeister (1990), Nicolai Hartmanns New Ontology, particularly chapter VI for a discussion of Hartmanns Ethics (1932/33). Werkmeister gives a good summary of Ha rtmanns 746 page book, which is a virtue ethics theory based on Kant s work and grounded in the realm of moral values, 196. 2 Hursthouse, On Virtue Ethics 5.
11 work on virtue ethics, with the publication of Morals from Motives (2001). These all start with similar expositions of the subject. The first step is to differe ntiate virtue ethics from deontological and utilitarian theories. The second step is to define a specif ic virtue ethics theory. 1 Both Hursthouse and Slote state that they are each espousing a particular version 2 or specific form 3 of virtue ethics. I need to give a brief account of the different directions of each of these works, and why I chose to follow Hursthouses approach. Slotes initial approach in From Morality to Virtue is directed more toward the theoretical and abstract, offering the foundations for a general account o f a specific form of virtue ethics, one that is sufficiently oriented to conceptual/structural is sues and specific about what counts as a virtue to enable us to compare its merits with those of currently dominant approaches to ethics. 4 He takes a more agent-based approach to virtue ethics which is focused more on the virtuous character of virtuous individuals than in the actions of individuals and more on being grounded in aretaic concepts of goodness and rightness. 5 His virtue ethics follows the thinking of some more modern philosophers such as Martineau, Christian Swanson and aspects of Nietzsche, rather t han Aristotle. 6 He built on this theoretical approach and movement away from Aristotles 1 Deontological and utilitarian theories also wrestl e with these two subjects, finding some of their own identity as theories in the differences between each other and trying to determine their own foundations and content. 2 Hursthouse, On Virtue Ethics, 5. 3 Slote, From Morality to Virtue, xiv. 4 Ibid., xiv. 5 Ibid., xiv. 6 See Hursthouse discussion, On Virtue Ethics 8.
12 approach in Morals from Motives However, an important aspect of his second text is that it is directed at a developing the ethics of care into a warm, agent-based V E theory of individual morality. 1 While I do believe that Slote provides some valuable insight in both of these works, because he takes a more theoretical approach, I do not intend to follow his approach. This is both because I intend to follow Aristotle and because the goal for t he theory I am developing is for it to be simple and applicable. By his own admission, Slotes approach is problematic on both accounts. As he points out in his introductory comments this present book deliberately avoids patterning its ideas on Aristotl e, arguing that at times the historical Aristotle seems irrelevant to s ome of the ethical problems of the modern world. 2 From Slotes perspective Aristotle seems to focus more on the evaluation of agents and character traits than on the evaluation of actions. 3 He also states that the account of caring he has offered is somewhat complex a nd problematic in that it might well be asked how anyone could be expected to carry such a complicated (or philosophically sophisticated?) view around in her head and guide her life by it. 4 He goes on to discuss that his account is something which could be used to measure motivation and conduct, not necessarily to guide action. During the second phase of my project, reconstructing Aquinass theory based on care, I will retur n to address Slote. In particular, he has a good discussion of the relationship between car e and justice, which will be helpful in evaluating other virtues. However, my focus is on 1 Stohr and Wellman, Recent Work on Virtue Ethics, 49. 2 Slote, Morals from Motives, vii. 3 Ibid. 5. 4 Ibid., 88.
13 developing a practical theory, based on Aquinass work which is founded on Aristotles theory. In this thesis, which is the first phase of my overall project of rebuilding Aquinass theory, I intend to follow Hursthouse in the direction I take in creating t he foundation and structure for this version of a care-based virtue ethics theory. Hursthouse offers an approach which is more concerned with details, examples and qualifications. 1 She defines her approach as neo-Aristotelian because, as is commonly acknowledged, Aristotle was wrong about certain things like slaves and women, but also because she does not want to be restricted to his narrow list of virtues. 2 While she adopts many of the notions of Aristotle from the Nicomachean Ethics she states that in certain regards she is launching out on her own. She believes this appr oach is necessary because what she imports from Aristotle is not only subject to int erpretation and the history of ideas but also needs to be modernized. 3 Since I will initially follow a similar approach, importing components of Aristotles work, I will not elaborate on her overall theory. However, I will introduce what she has brought in from Aristotle as a lead into a discussion of his theory. Hursthouse discusses five main ideas from Aristotle. The first two are his conception of eudaimonia and concept of virtue (or vice). The third is Aristotles distinction between acting from reason, which is the rati onal wanting or desire of adults, and the mere passion or desire that impels the other animals a nd small children in what they do when they act. 4 The fourth piece she uses from Aristotle is that she finds his theory hospitable to the notion that beliefs and desires are not separ ate 1 Hursthouse, On Virtue Ethics, 5. 2 Ibid., 8. 3 Ibid., 9. 4 Ibid., 14.
14 distinct parts of human nature. Many modern ethical theories hold that belief and desire have very different roles in decisions and actions, and these theories struggle wit h this issue. Aristotles concept of choice ( prohairesis ) can be either desiderative intellect or intellectual desire. 1 Finally, she highlights the insight had into the cultivation of virtues in children. I will follow Hursthouses approach and I plan to draw on several of the insights in Hursthouses book. I also plan to discuss some of the problems with virtue ethics theories in several parts. First, I plan to follow a specific path through the Nicomachean Ethics with a particular objective in mind. While I do intend to be consistent with Aristotles w ork, I do not intend to provide a definitive account of exactly what he means in each area I discuss. Rather, my goal is to extract useful parts of his theory which address some of the problems of virtue ethics theory, along with some of Hursthouses insights. I w ill also discuss how Aquinas addresses some of the problems with virtue ethics theory b ased on portions of his work. In particular, my goal is to try to remove the theological aspe cts of Aquinass work, while maintaining the valuable components, and reformulate it in a naturalistic fashion. I will build on my interpretation of some of Aristotles a nd Aquinass important concepts with the intention of using them as components for constructing a care-based virtue ethics theory. I will then develop a notion of car e which, when combined with these components will provide the foundation and structural for a sound virtue ethics theory which begins to address the basic problems. 1 Hursthouse, On Virtue Ethics 16.
15 Chapter 3: Aristotles Virtue The ethics of Aristotle is about human action and the decisions involved. At the beginning of the Nicomachean Ethics ( NE ) he states that every action and decision, seems to seek some good (1094a1-5). 1 He goes on in this first book to discuss how some actions are means to other ends while some things achievable by action have some end we wish for because of itself (1094a18). Aristotle argues that the end we seek for itself, which is the highest good, is eudaimonia This highest good is the ultimate end of the actions which he is investigating. Eudaimonia is a form of happiness which m ore than anything else, seems complete without qualification (1097a34-35). While a lot of the commentary on Aristotles work focuses on the nature of this end, Terence Irwi n, in his footnotes to this important opening book of the NE, provides a reminder of the significance Aristotle places on the action component of his theory. Aristotle has four different classifications for human pursuits which are directed to some g oal. Three of these pursuits, crafts, types of production and lines of inquiry, seem to aim at goals which go beyond the activity itself and the exercise of the activity. However, Aristotle sets out to develop an understanding of the special kind of action that includes ACTIVITY that 1 Irwin, Terence, Translator (1999), Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., Indianapolis, Indiana. I will use this trans lation throughout and reference the quotes from it with the Bekker numbers.
16 does not aim at any end beyond itself. 1 Certain actions which are chosen for their own sakes are among the things chosen for the sake of some end, and hence (he will go on to argue) for the sake of some ultimate end. 2 Throughout the NE Aristotle develops, expands and elaborates on the relationship between the action and the end. As Irwi n notes, Aristotles work in the NE includes both an effort to describe and understand the highest good and to prescribe ways to achieve it. 3 What follows will be a brief outline of parts of the theory he built in the NE around his conception of virtue and the related action. In particular, I want to focus on both Aristotles characterization of a virtue and the relationship he develops between virtue and action. Aristotle classifie d virtues into two broad groupings, the moral and the intellectual. I will first discuss the moral virtues and then give a brief account of the intellectual virtues both for completeness and f or developing a better understanding of one of the most important virtues in his theory, prudence. Prudence and the moral virtues are the primary ethical components in hi s theory. The dichotomy between the moral and intellectual virtues is based on Aristotle s account of the human soul. One part of the human soul is non-rational and one part is rational. He further categorizes the non-rational part into two more group ings. The first part has to do with the many bodily functions that are found in plants and other animals, such as the biological or chemical operation of the kidneys or digestive systems. Othe r parts are shared just with the animals, such as vision or other sensory percept ions. These 1 Irwin, Translator, Nicomachean Ethics, 172. As Irwin points out, ACTIVITY in the sense related to virtue is identical to action. While bo th action and activity are used in several senses i n the NE in relation to the virtues, he ascribes to each vi rtue a distinctive range of actions. 353. 2 Ibid., 172. 3 Ibid., 172. Emphasis added.
17 parts are not directly under a persons control. For example, in a newborn infant, these biological systems function automatically as parts of the human animal. The a ctions related to these functions are generally construed as involuntary, and inclu de other things such as growth, heartbeat and breathing. An infant needs food and water for survival, just like any other animal, and so he has an appetite or desire for food. Many of these biological desires and appetites, and the related actions, are generally cat egorized as instincts or instinctive. A child instinctively reaches out to his mother to nurse or s eeks out other nutrition. He has an appetite or desire for food. If a certain activi ty results in satisfying an appetite or desire, just like any other animal, the human child wi ll most likely repeat the action. These instinctive actions can become habituated i n the human animal. A childs instinct to eat, if satisfied in a particular way on a regula r basis, would cause a behavioral change which then becomes a disposition to act in a certain manner. I do not intend (nor is it necessary to) impute any modern behavioral psychology to Aristotle. This story fits with basic observation and categorization, an approa ch Aristotle took to ethics. Aristotles discussions of pleasure and pain in Book II of the NE indicate his concern with this aspect of human development. He points out that some pleasure grows up with all of us from infancy on and it is difficult to change the associa ted feelings which can become dyed into our lives (1105a2-5). The moral virtues are concerned with these aspects of a human. Aristotle describes a moral virtue as a particular state within a human be ing which is concerned with actions and feelings (1104b14-15). The virtue is not a feeling or a capacity to feel, but something which causes its possessors to be in a good state and to perform their functions well (1106a16-17). The virtuous state is a disposition an
18 individual has which causes her to act and feel a particular way in certain sit uations. There are a variety of different situations an individual can encounter which re quire action and which involve a range of emotions. Therefore, in order to better understand the human dispositions related to morality, Aristotle groups human feelings and act ions into different categories. He starts from what might be construed as the more basic human attributes related to emotions and the human animal nature and works his way to the more complex dispositions related to thought. 1 Some moral virtues, such as temperance, are more concerned with the desiderative and appetitive part of t he person. As the name suggest, these parts of an individual are concerned with the desire f or things like food and drink or the appetite for sexual or other pleasures. Other moral virtues ar e more directly connected to emotions, such as courage, as it relates to fear. Aris totle argues that the moral virtues, which deal with desires and emotions, are primaril y acquired through habit. Aristotle also observed another part of the soul which to him seems to be nonrational, though in a way it shares in reason (1102b14-15). This other part of the soul can be observed in human animal systems. For example, the sensory part of t he nervous system can cause a person to take an involuntary action, such as pulling his hand away from intense heat in order to prevent bodily damage. However, an individual can also endure intense, damaging heat by choosing to keep his hand on a hot surface. This leads Aristotle to postulate that there is a second portion of the non-rational part of the soul. Aristotle observes that there seems to be some part of the appetitive a nd 1 This is based upon the sequence within the Nicomachean Ethics Aristotle starts with the moral virtues in Book II which are related to a more basi c animal nature and then proceeds to discuss the vi rtues of thought, in Book VI, which he attributes to high er human functions found in reason.
19 desiderative parts of a person which, while generally related to his anima l nature, shares in reason and yet at the same time it appears to be apart or somehow separa te from reason as well, so that this part of the soul appears at times to be clashing and struggling with reason (1102b14-20). Aristotle postulates that there is a struggle within the soul because we c an observe how the body parts go astray when incontinent people have impulses in contrary directions (1102b20-25). While we cannot observe the soul, he argues that we should suppose that the soul also has something apart from reason, countering and opposing reason (1102b20-25). Aristotle also observes that over time an individual can develop some level of control over some of his bodily systems. This control occurs when the countering part of a persons animal nature obeys reason (1102b26-29). Control can best be observed in a continent person. The struggle and the relation between reason a nd the body can be explained in simple examples. How much a person eats and what he eats will affect overall bodily weight. An individual who decides he wants to lose we ight though a diet will struggle with the bodys need for nourishment. A similar strugg le occurs in a person who has developed a strong desire for alcohol and has made the conscious decision to not drink alcohol. There is a struggle between the addictive desire in the physical operation of the body and the mind, which attempts to control this addictive desire. Prudence is the disposition or part of a person which serves the function of trying to implement the commands of the intellect (reason), and get the bod y to obey those commands. The appetitive and desiderative parts of a persons bodily functions are related t o human animal nature and are considered natural or in some cases instinctive in the ir
20 movement. However, there is something in these bodily function, a part of them which both listens to reason and obeys it in a manner more like the way a child obeys hi s father, rather than the way we conceive the certainty of math (1102b30-35). Two plus two does not sometimes equal four, it always does. Yet, a child (particularly a tee nager) may or may not obey a parent. The child sometimes provides no more reasoning for not doing something than saying he didnt feel like doing it. Aristotle seems to be de scribing a way in which a person appears to choose not to listen to reason. It does not appear to be purely a desire or appetite which overcomes reason. It sometimes is diff icult to separate this part which disobeys reason from the case where a person may not be able to control his desires and appetites. An individual may decide it is too difficult to c ontinue dieting. But there also may be a point when a person needs food and something inside of him drives him to eat. Up to some point, short of starvation, an individual may be able to control his desire to eat. However, if the animal instinct becomes strong enough, it may overpower reason and at that point the individual would act purely from his animal nature for survival. Similarly, an individual may choose to drink or it may be the case that t he addictive craving for alcohol overcomes reason. This notion of control and loss of control is central to Aristotles definition of a moral virtue and Aristotle does not construe it as a simple matter. It is a com plex subject which he addresses at length both in general and related to specific virtues. What makes it even more difficult to explain and justify is Aristotles target. A mora l virtue is not a simple disposition an individual has for controlling his animal appetites and desir es, and directing the related actions. A moral virtue is an excellence, a dispositi on in which an individual has the highest level of control possible for a human being. He excels in the
21 particular area under consideration. A virtuous act of courage is the most ethica l action an individual could have taken given the circumstances of the situation he encounters. Understanding Aristotles concept of excellence requires further elabo ration because the description of a moral virtue that I have given thus far is somewhat behavior al and might even be observable in other animals. A dog can be trained to sit and stay put when presented with food, until it is released by command. Different animals can be trained to excel in certain be haviors. In like manner, the ability of a person to control his appetite is something which can be learned and then observed in external behavior. What is different about Aristotl es moral virtue is what is taking place within the person. In the case of a dogs behavior the internal struggle to repress its instinct to eat the food presented can someti mes be observed. The dog may intensely stare at the food or manifest a tension in her body ready to pounce on the morsel upon the release command. However there is no way of determining exactly what is taking place inside the animal. Similar obs ervations can be made in humans. A person dieting may gaze at another persons meal with what m ight be construed as a look of hunger. While the definition of a moral virtue starts in this simple behavioral fashion, it very quickly becomes complex. The reason the individual has for taking a particular action and the feeling associated with the act ion are important to determining whether or not a person has a particular virtue. The intention and state of the individual taking a particular action are what qualifies it as a virtuous action. As I have delineated it, this is what in I mea n by going the direction of going from the virtue to the action. Furthermore, the state a nd intention are related to specific goals, going from the virtue in the direction of the princ iples. For
22 purposes of understanding Aristotles requirements of a virtue, I will break the a nalysis into three parts. The first part relates to the characteristics of a vir tuous action. The second part has to do with the state and character of the individual. The third has to do with Aristotles overarching goal in the Nicomachean Ethics and how he connects his goal to the virtuous action. All three of these are integral, interrelated par ts of Aristotles definition of a virtue with no one part standing separate. To be considered a virtuous action, the action must be taken from a particular state, as a part of an individual s overall character and be directed to the proper goals within Aristotles theory. Aristotles first two requirements, the characteristics of an acti on and the state of the individual, are very tightly related and so I will discuss them together. A virtuous action is an excellence, the most ethical action an individual can take in a given s ituation. This excellence comes from the individuals disposition which is his charact er trait. It is a characteristic way an individual has of doing the right thing, which is habituate d into the individual through his efforts over time. The individual must know [that he is doing virtuous actions]; second, he must decide on them, and decide on them for themselves; and, third, he must also do them from a firm and unchanging state (1105a30-35). The person needs to be able to figure out what must be done (or not done) and do it in the proper manner. A virtuous action is one that should accord with the correct reason (1103b32-34). The individual takes the prudent action. It is at this point that the intellectual virtues come into the account of virtue. The intellectual dispositions are things like understanding and wisdom. However, there is one intellectual virtue which plays a critical role in Aristotle s account of the moral virtues. The intellectual dispositions concern the reasoning part of the indivi dual
23 and are mainly acquired through teaching (1103a15-19). Prudence is the one virtue which does not fit neatly into Aristotles system. Prudence ( phronesis ) is defined as a state grasping the truth, involving reason, and concerned with action about human goods (1140b20-22). While Aristotle categorizes prudence as part of the intellec t, he also believes that it has a connection with the animal side of the soul, and thus is also concerned with feelings and action. In this role, prudence serves a key function in Aristotles theory. It is the link between knowing what the proper ethical action i s through the intellect (reason) and directing the body to carry out that action. The vi rtuous person must be wise enough to know what to do. Then he must be prudent enough to execute the action and do it properly. Prudence plays a pivotal role in Aristotles theory. He argues that we can not be fully good without prudence, or prudent without virtue of character (1144b30). This ties the virtues together in his sense that they all share in prudence, which connects and unifies the virtues. If a person has courage, they make prudent decisions relat ed to fear. The same is true for other virtues, such as temperance or truthfulness. Aristotl e argues that virtue is not merely the state in accord with correct reason, but the state involving the correct reason which is virtue (1144b26-30). A person can have all the virtues if and only if one has prudence (1145a1-3). Prudence connects reason, which is part of the intellect, with the action of the body, in that prudence makes us achieve the things t hat promote the end (1145a5-7). The end is happiness and having the virtues entitles a person to be called good without qualification (1145a1-3). It is important to note t hat Aristotle as usually read as using this separation of the parts of the individual onl y for
24 purposes of elucidation of functioning of ethical behavior. His general view of a huma n, in modern terms, might best be described as holistically. Aristotles focus on prudence and the importance it plays in his theory reflect s the emphasis he places on action. In my interpretation of Aristotle, I see a virtue e thics theory which considers action as one of the most important components. Aristotle sta tes at the conclusion of the NE that the aim of studies about action, as we say, is surely not to study and know about a given thing, but rather to act on our knowledge (1179b1-4). This is to some degree counter to the opening comment about virtue ethics, which I provided from Statman that virtue ethics is primarily about character. Many modern virtue ethics theories reject the notion that the most important question in morality is about what it is right to do or what is the right action to take. 1 While the concept of a virtue is central to virtue ethics theory, its purpose is to provide the vehicle or met hod for a human to consistently and regularly take ethical actions. Aristotle built hi s theory from the question How can we get people to take ethical action? His answer was the conce pt of a virtue. The critical element is the repeated efforts to make the right, et hical decision and take ethical actions in order to develop the virtues. To understand the role for prudence more fully first requires a further analysis of Aristotles conc eption of the human and a critical element of Aristotles account, the notion of the mean. While reason is the key element of Aristotles account, to be considered a virt uous action the emotional condition of the individual must also be right. A person must have 1 Gregory Trianosky provided a survey and analysis of the variety of modern virtue ethics theories. He outlined nine of the most common components of m odern virtue ethics theories. However, he points out that nearly all contemporary writers on the vi rtues reject the notion that the most important qu estion in morality is what is it right or obligatory to d o? Trianosky, What Is Virtue Ethics All about?, 335. He goes on to explain that contemporary theories al most always contain arguments indicating that the emphasis should be on aspects of the virtues or the related virtuous life.
25 the proper feelings, in a particular situation, so that he will have these feeli ngs at the right times, about the right things, toward the right people, for the right end, and in the right way (1106b21-24). The individuals reason and emotion must be a part of a particular state of his character, from which he acts on a regular basis. T o be a virtuous person each of his moral actions reflects this state. That is a lot to ask of an action. What is particularly challenging is how to address the emotional state of the individua l. As an example of the requirements for virtue, consider a dangerous situation involving fear of death. A person with the virtue of courage will take the best possible action he can take, will feel the proper amount of fear, and will take action for the r ight reasons. In order to define a virtuous act, Aristotle must not only address the reasoni ng part of the soul, but he must also figure out how to define the proper emotional response. To describe the proper emotional state he develops the idea of a continuum. He consider s an emotion as something which is continuous and divisible in which we can take more, less, and equal where the equal is some intermediate between excess and deficiency (1106a25-34). He then relates this continuum to the emotional response a person has in a situation. He bases his analysis of emotion on observation. In the ca se of fear, on one end of the scale there are various levels of feeling fear too much. On t he other end of the scale there are levels of feeling fear too little. The continuum runs from some level of extreme fear to feeling no fear at all. The excellent acti on is a courageous action somewhere in-between the extremes, in a mean relative to an individual, i n a particular situation. An action toward one side of the mean, too much fear, represents the vice of cowardice. Toward the other end of the scale, not enough fear, is the vice of
26 foolhardiness. The courageous action is just like well-made products that nothing could be added or subtracted (1106b10-15). A person working with the mean in view and exercising the excellent dispositi on of courage, the virtue of courage, creates an action which like nature, is bette r and more exact than any craft (1106b10-15). The person performing a virtuous action takes th e best action possible for him in the situation. Aristotle also argues that the me an can apply either to feelings or action (1106b25). The mean is specific to an individua l or as he states it, the mean is not the same for all (1106a33). The action and emotion are intermediate relative to us (1106b5-9). The idea of the mean is an important component in the implementation of a virtue by an individual in a specific situation. It i s essential to Aristotles concept of virtue. The essence and definition of a virt ue is a mean, but, as far as the best [condition] and the good [result] are concerned, it is a n extremity (1107a6-9). A person has the ability to perform a virtuous act because over time he has acquired an excellence in dealing with one of the areas of human lif e involving an emotion such as fear. Over time, through repeated efforts and work, as well as education, feedback from experience and maturity, a person learns to take the ri ght action in a given situation. A virtuous action is an excellent action and all the parts involved within the individual are in harmony. His emotions and his reason are in accord with what should be done and he executes the action. He no longer has a desire or appetite to do something which reason would not agree is in the ethical action. Both the account I have just given of the characteristics of a virtuous action and the state of the individual, require a further understanding of the third part of my a ccount of Aristotles notion of a virtue. I started my account of Aristotles virtue ethics with a
27 brief introduction of the goal of his theory. The moral decisions and actions of individuals seem to be directed toward some good or end. Aristotle is trying to expl ain the good for humans, how this good relates to the human end or telos and how this end can be achieved through proper human decisions and actions. He concludes that the human good proves to be activity of the soul in accord with virtue, and indeed with the best and most complete virtue (1098a15-20). Virtue is achieved over a lifetime and will lead to eudaimonia which is a form of happiness or human flourishing. It is a type of happiness achieved in some sense throughout an individuals lifetime, or in a complete life in the sense that one day or a short time does not make us blessed and happy (1098a15-20). A virtuous action is a good action, a virtue is a good character trait a nd a virtuous life will lead to the good life. The end or telos which moral human beings aim at is eudaimonia a flourishing, good life. One of Aristotles primary goals in the NE is to prescribe a way to achieve eudaimonia and have a good life. Aristotle develops his notion of the good related to the moral virtues as something proper to the function of a human being as a rational animal. This argument is made both at the beginning of the Nicomachean Ethics primarily in Books I and II, and again at the end, in a slightly different fashion, in Book X. Aristotle argues that the ends of ma ny decisions and actions are actually means to some other end, and the ultimate end is found in happiness, which is the ultimate good or best good (1094a22). The end of happiness is never chosen because of something else but is complete without qualification (1097a35). Individuals may seek many other different ends, and it is not entirely cle ar
28 that Aristotle necessarily connects them all to happiness. 1 However, he clearly goes the other direction and connects happiness to the good of the virtues and the good in the virtues. 2 A virtue is an action which accords with reason. Aristotle connects the good, which is found in happiness, to the virtues, by connecting happiness to reason through his function argument. 3 Aristotles function argument starts with observation. He is trying to under stand what it is which separates humans from the other life forms and is unique only to humans. Humans share things like nutrition and growth with the plants and sense perceptions like sight and hearing with some animals. Reason is the unique charac teristic which is not shared with the other animals. In particular, the part of reason which is purely intellectual thought is possessed only by humans. He concludes that the human function is activity of the soul in accord with reason or requiring reason (1098a1-9). His next step is to try to express what it means for a human to excel at the particul arly human function of reason, as this relates to the human life. He conjectures that like the m anner in which the excellence of a musician in playing music will lead to the best song, the excellence in the function of a human reason will lead to the life of happiness. Arist otle 1 There is some controversy over whether Aristotle d efines the path to happiness in the first part of the Nicomachean Ethics as it relates to the moral virtues, or as he const rues it at the end, in contemplation found in the intellectual virtues. I do not intend to address this issue herein because it is not rel evant to my overall thesis. However, I do not believe he const rued happiness to only be found in a life of contemplation. If this were the case, it would be a mistake born out of his elitist view of the world Rather, I think what he means is that an individual must ha ve the time and capacity to contemplate in life in order to be at least continent and have any chance at bec oming virtuous. Someone who spends all his time an d energy surviving will have difficulty in ever bring ing reason to bear on controlling his appetites and desires. Only in and through contemplation can an individual find the road to happiness. 2 See comments by Terence Irwin in his footnotes to the Nicomachean Ethics page 172, note 1 to Book I. 3 The strong reading of this thesis is that Aristotl e believes that a person can be happy if and only if he is virtuous. I will address this concern lat er on in my thesis.
29 argues that we take the human function to be a certain kind of life, and take this life to be activity and actions of the soul that involve reason; hence the function of the excelle nt man is to do this well and finely (1098a10-14). The excellent human being is not the greatest athlete, musician, writer, scientist or someone who excels in a ce rtain human endeavor. The excellent human is someone who is virtuous. The end for humans can be achieved through the proper use of human reason to control the animal and emotional parts of the human soul. However, reason cannot accomplish this excellence on its own. It needs the help of the moral virtues, which are the habituated dispositions whi ch a person develops to facilitate this effort. The connection between the end of happines s and the disposition or acquired habit of a virtue can be understood in an example. If an individual was in the military he might be required to stand at a post wit hout moving for a very long time. His ability to resist the instinctive desire to e at, drink or scratch an itch would be important. In this instance if the soldier acts prope rly over a long period of time, he might be promoted to a higher rank, which may be his goal. Thus in this context he considers an action which goes against his natural desires as a good thing. It helps him attain his end. If over time he exhibited the appropriate behavior he would be considered a good soldier within the military system to which he belonged. This is the context which defines good for this soldier. It might take tim e for him to develop the disposition of standing still and it may come easier to some individuals. For him to have developed the disposition to behave in the manner required of a soldier, related to controlling instinctive desire, would be definitive of what might be consi dered one of the soldiering virtues or dispositions. This is the disposition or habit of resis ting the inclination to move while standing guard. When he attained the level where he no
30 longer had the feeling that he wanted to move, where his reasoning was aligned w ith his emotions, he would have the full virtue. If this particular action was important for all soldiers, then as a soldier, his reasoning for acting in this fashion would matter. However, if Aristotles notion of a virtue were imposed on this example, to be consi dered virtuous the soldier would not act for personal advance in the ranks. If we could conceive of him as a soldiering animal, or having the nature of being a soldier, he would act because by doing so he would flourish as a soldier. When he had achieved all the appropriate soldiering virtues would he flourish as a soldier. He would be an excellent soldier based on the nature of a soldier, as defined by the military organization. Thi s analogy goes a little beyond Aristotles work in the NE and moves towards his Politics I want to be clear that I am not imputing this overarching view to him. Rather, I chos e this type of example because it is important for two reasons which will be valuable in extending Aristotles theory to a care-based virtue theory. First, this example highlights an important aspect of virtue ethics. A soldi er virtue may have special features which may help the soldier survive. The soldie ring virtues have significance to the individual soldier and the military unit to which he belongs which connect to the functioning of the unit. Soldiers who can stand at a location for a long time without movement give the unit a very structured appearanc e. Marching in unison and other actions associated with military precision give t he perception of excellence. The difference between a unit of new recruits and a w ell trained unit marching in formation would highlight this analogy. How both the individual soldier and the military unit would excel with soldiering virtues parall els how an individual and a society might excel with human virtues. However, a soldiering
31 disposition may also help the soldier, or the unit, in a dangerous situation. He could find himself in a situation where any motion would cause him to be discovered and killed. His training could help him stay alive. The teamwork found in marching in unison likewise helps the function and survival of the unit. While the primary reason for takin g the virtuous action is because the soldier will then be an excellent soldier, it al so would entail the survival of the soldier. Other soldiering virtues would be important for t he functioning and survival of the entire military unit. The idea of survival underlie s flourishing. I will return to this discussion and relate it to ideas within of c are-based virtue ethics theory as part of the foundational principles. The second reason I chose the example of soldiering virtue is that it helps understand the top down conceptualizing of a virtue ethics theory. The military unit ca n be thought of as having an overarching goal. This goal is what determines the act ions required of the soldier. The disposition to carry out these actions the best way possibl e are what defines or constitutes the virtue. The military example would repre sent a top down approach to virtue ethics. The military unit has a goal and this goal defines the soldiering virtue which then defines the right actions. I will not argue the point as to whether or not Aristotle conceives his theory as a top down approach. Rather, I want to use this example in contrast to how care-based virtue ethics is built, as a bottom up approach.
32 Borrowing from Aristotle As an overall work, the NE appears to be an attempt to make sense of the world and then use that knowledge to help a person take actions. One of my goals is to develop this care-based virtue ethics theory as something an individual can put to use in his or her day to day decision making. In order to address this aspect, I must first give an a ccount of how a virtue ethics theory can address action. I will start by buildi ng on the account Hursthouse gives of action. In the notion of action I take from Aristotle, I mean intentional human action and the choice involved. As mentioned earlier, in Aristotles account choice ( prohairesis ) can be from belief, desire or both belief and desire. Hursthouse gives a very good account of how virtue ethics addresses action. 1 She argues that virtue ethics theory can provide action guidance as well as either utilitarian or deontological theories The way to understand this account is through the practical syllogism. The practical syl logism is a decision making tool which is relatively simple and, in its shortest version, re quires three components. It starts with a universal premise, which is followed by a specif ic premise involving the evaluation of a situation. It concludes with action guidance. This simple syllogism is of the form: An action is right if and only if (iff) it is X. Action A is X (and actions B, C, D, etc. are not X). Therefore, I should take action A (the right action to take is A) Additional premises can be added to further define the universal premise. Other premises can also be inserted to qualify or elaborate on the situation and the action involved 1 The following is based on Hursthouses discussion in On Virtue Ethics pgs. 25-32, with some modifications. Along with the focus on character, she points out that virtue ethics is usually improp erly construed as agent-centered rather than act-centere d, concerned with Being rather than Doing and in general that it is not focused on rules to provide action guidance, but more on artic concepts. 26.
33 Hursthouse uses simplified versions of utilitarian and deontological theories for comparative purposes and to clarify how the practical syllogism works in eac h theory. Utilitarian theories start with the universal premise that an action is r ight iff it promotes some form of best consequences. Deontological theories start with t he universal premise that an action is right iff it adheres to the correct mor al rule. Virtue ethics theories can be approached in two ways. The starting premise in a vi rtue ethics theory could be either a virtuous principle or it could be a virtue. In the first cas e, an action is right iff it corresponds to the virtuous principle. The second case is m ore complex because a virtue is a character trait or disposition in an individual. Ther efore, the second case would be stated that an action is right iff it corresponds with what a person with the specific virtue would do, or more simplistically the action is wha t a virtuous person would do. This is considered the same as saying that the action corresponds to a virtue. I want to first elaborate on Hursthouses discussion of how a virtuous principle would function in the practical syllogism. I will then address the more complex workings of how a virtue functions or how action can be derived from the instruction to doing what the virtuous person would do. Hursthouse points out that a virtuous principle or rule might be do what is honest. She refers to these virtue ethics principles as v-rules and compares them to the rules of deontological theories. A v-rule could also be a prohibition, such as do not do something which is uncharitable. 1 While she acknowledges that the broad nature of these principles opens them to being evaluative or value-laden, she argues that the same can be said for the initial principles of both utilitarian and deontological the ories. Unless 1 See Hursthouse discussion, On Virtue Ethics 37.
34 a utilitarian theory uses content free definitions for happiness (and she clai ms that a few try to), or does not try to rank higher and lower pleasures, it will also will need ev aluative conditions. The deontological theories run into the same problems with rules such as do no evil or help others, both of which contain evaluative terms. She points out that both deontological and utilitarian theories provide guidance for action in the same man ner which virtue ethics theories would provide action guidance. The first premise of the argument for justification of an action would be similar in structure for all thr ee approaches. An action is right (ethical) iff it promotes the best consequences, o r is in accordance with the correct moral rule, or it is in accord with a v-rule. E ach of the three theories must then turn to the next premise in order to determine what information satisfies the first premise. A utilitarian must determine what the best consequences are. deontologist must ascertain the proper rule Someone adhering to a virtue ethics theor y must determine the proper v-rule. Hursthouse argues that when appealing to v-rule s, virtue ethics theories have a very clear action component. The difficulty in volved in understanding the connection between action and a virtue generally arises when the principles of a virtue ethics theory are based on the character of the individual. Ther e tends to be confusion in trying to understand the relation between action and what the virtuous agent would do. A virtue ethics theory will sometimes use as the first premise the noti on that an action is right iff it is what a virtuous agent would characteristically do in the situation. Hursthouse states that this approach only adds additional subsequent premises. T here needs to be additional qualifications on the universal premise or additional premis es leading up to the action instructions. In the virtue ethics syllogism the additiona l premise
35 could be as simple as stating that the virtuous agent would do the v-rule. It could be as complex as discussing the character traits of the virtuous agent. It is no diffe rent than what may be necessary to qualify the meaning of the most happiness in a utilitari an theory, or explaining the meaning of a rule in a deontological theory. In fact, Hursthouse makes a very important point. The account of action in virtue ethics theory actuall y reflects the real world as well, if not better than, either deontological or ut ilitarian theories. It is an issue which leads to an important perspective of virtue ethics theory. In moral decision making, individuals may consider rules and also take into account the consequences of their moral actions. However, they also frequently ask others for advice about those rules or consequences and they also look to how other individuals act in similar circumstances. What is of significance in Hursthouses commentary is how she addresses t he idea that the right action for a person to take is to do what the virtuous agent would do. One of the more common objections to virtue ethics theories is that this method of determining ethical action is not valid. She turns this objection into a strength of virtue ethics theory. To determine what he should do, an individual should ask a virtuous person what to do. Or he could ask a virtuous person what she would do in the particular situation. Asking for help and advice is a method which people regularly employ. I n building her case, Hursthouse starts with what she finds as one of the strengths of Aristotles work as it relates to the everyday world of human ethics. She st ates that to read almost any other famous moral philosopher is to receive the impression that w e, the intelligent adult readers addressed, sprang fully formed from our fathers brow. 1 In our 1 Hursthouse, On Virtue Ethics 14.
36 day-to-day lives seeking and giving moral guidance is a very common method of determining how to proceed in a situation. It is particularly important and preva lent in raising children. Most people experienced it themselves in their upbringing. Moral guidance comes from a variety of sources such as parents, family members, e ducational institutions, sports groups, religion and other parts of society. As adults we a lso seek moral advice and guidance from people whom we believe to be morally better than ourselves. In considering how individuals take moral action, she points out that we do not always act as autonomous, utterly self-determined agents. 1 She goes on to point out that this can also apply to the negative side of human moral action. When a person wants to do something wrong, he may also ask those he believes to be morally infer ior, in order to facilitate rationalizing an unethical action he may want to take. Sh e argues that this aspect of virtue ethics is an advantage that it has as a theory over de ontology or utilitarianism. It more closely reflects the way individuals function in re al life and it contains an element which addresses moral development. The obvious response to this argument, from opponents of virtue ethics, is that finding a virtuous person may be very difficult, if not impossible. Even Aristotle claims that to become a fully virtuous person is a very rare accomplishment. 2 To this Hursthouse responds that it is simply false that, in general, if I am le ss than fully virtuous, then I shall have no idea what a virtuous agent would do as the objection claims. 3 Many good pieces of advice are qualified within the context of do as I say, not 1 Hursthouse, On Virtue Ethics 35. 2 See my earlier comments regurading the comments by Susan Wolf in Moral Saints. The problems with this view are highlighted in her arti cle. 3 Hursthouse, On Virtue Ethics 36.
37 as I do. Because someone is not fully virtuous does not mean that they do not know the right thing to do. If a person has achieved some level of virtue (continence) or some minimal list of virtues, such as honesty and temperance, she can give reasonable advice. Someone morally better than an individual could provide advice to him. It is not necessary that the individual has achieved the highest level of virtue possible, such as that conceived by Aristotle. It is also not necessary to actually find and consult a virtuous person in every situation. It is not too difficult to conclude that the virtuous agent would do the honest or temperate thing, or would be characteristically honest. In furthera nce of this argument she turns toward some parallels with deontological and utilitari an theories. Hursthouse both provides some insight into the hierarchy which can be found in morality and relates this to moral development. Rarely do we teach our children j ust plain and simple rules. We generally start by giving explanations rega rding the consequences of a rule. We may teach a child not to lie because the child may be punished, or not to steal because he might end up making the person he took something from sad. Throughout the moral education of a child we try to give some merit to t he rule, some explanation or justification. As the education process progresses teaching a child not to lie or steal develops into teaching him about honesty. For example, there are many rules related to food consumption, sexual relations or financial responsibilit y which are related to temperance. The rules taught as part of temperance can be explained with a variety of reasons. A child may be instructed to share food so that he makes more pe ople than just himself happy or so that others less fortunate will have food. One of t he strengths of virtue theory is found in teaching about the value of truth in general, r ather than simply instructing a child to refrain from lying because of the consequ ences or
38 because it is a rule. This type of moral education occurs from an early age. A young child may be told to be kind to his younger sibling because he is smaller and needs t he protection of his older sibling. This benefit continues as the child grows older and he is told not to lie because of the importance of friendships or relationships, or what it mea ns to his reputation. It is important to not simply teach a rule. This broader moral e ducation is a part of how society functions. Providing children evaluative conditions helps the m to not just learn rules to repeat without thought. Individuals learn rules through the understanding of principles, which is a method employed in many other areas of education. 1 The developmental aspect of virtue that Hursthouse has outlined contains another important component which would be a direction worth exploring in the construction of the full care-based virtue ethics theory. I will only briefly touch on it here in re ference to ideas Aristotle has regarding the next step he intended in the enlargement of his et hical theory. In an analysis of Aristotles virtue ethics, Peter Simpson summar izes what Aristotle says are the three things through which we become good: nature, habit and teaching. 2 Aristotle argues that there is nothing a person can do about his nature, and that teaching only works if the individuals character is already disposed or ha s been properly prepared. This preparation is a very important aspect of developing a good character and the related consistent ethical action. Preparation of cha racter requires proper training from youth up, and that, in turn, cannot be achieved without the right 1 See Hursthouse discussion, On Virtue Ethics 38-39. 2 Peter Simpson, Contemporary Virtue Ethics and Ari stotle, 250.
39 laws. 1 This argument is made at the end of the NE in Book X as Aristotles lead into the Politics It highlights the importance Aristotle placed on the indoctrination of habits into an individual from a very young age. In some regards the Politic s can be seen as Aristotles attempt to outline a way in which society could be structured to ac complish Aristotles the preparation of character in an individual. 2 By many accounts, the Politics appears as a method of structuring the formal legal and governmental parts of soc iety. However, Simon sees in Aristotle some of the more personal aspects of his approach. A s Simon puts it, in order to learn ethical teaching a persons character must f irst be disposed to virtue and already be in love with the beautiful. 3 As Aristotle outlines it, habituation and teaching in the upbringing of young people are critical components of virtue ethics. In a sense, virtue ethics theory is about how an adult individual ought to develop virtues, but it starts with addressing how a person develops his character t raits as a child. The early moral development of a child is an important component of Aristotle s virtue ethics theory. He emphasizes at the beginning of the NE that individuals need to have had the appropriate upbringing right from early youth (1104b10-12). He concludes the NE with a similar sentiment, that the student needs to have been prepared by habits (1179b25). There is a societal role to be played in the moral development of a child. This is a component of the ethics of care which I will only touch on in this thesis There are many rich areas in the literature regarding the ethics of ca re which address the 1 Peter Simpson, Contemporary Virtue Ethics and Ari stotle, 250. 2 As Richard Kraut points out in the introduction to The Blackwell Guide to Aristotles Nicomachean Ethics Aristotle does not think of political theory and ethics as two separate and autonomous parts of philosophy. The Nichomachean Ethics then, is conceived as the first volume of a two-volume study, 2. The second volume would be A ristotles Politics 3 Peter Simpson, Contemporary Virtue Ethics and Ari stotle, 250.
40 moral development and care. Noddings devotes the final chapter of her book to the subject. He states that the primary aim of every educational institution a nd every educational effort must be the maintenance and enhancement of caring. 1 She includes a very broad listing of those involved in this education, from parents and teachers to coaches and preachers. Applying Aristotles approach to virtue, a virtue might be thought of as sta rting with the development of humans. As individuals develop, the virtues are drawn out of the nature of the actions coming from the desires, appetites and feelings of t he human animal, which are directed by reason. The directions of reason first come from others, such as parents, teachers and friends. The social component is important from the ve ry beginning, so that it is best, then, if the community attends to upbringing, and attends correctly (1180a30-33). Other people help shape the early actions of a child towar d a particular disposition. Dispositions which grow into virtues are ones which appear ed to lead to flourishing. Courage and honesty are virtues because they are thought to be g ood. This comes from observing people individually and within society. Thus Aristotle opens and closes the NE with a discussion of the aim of his work, toward the developing an ethical society through political science. Action is the end of political sc ience and for those who accord with reason in forming their desires and in their actions, knowledge of political science will be of great benefit (1095a5-11). My intent is not to read too much into Aristotles work, but rather to extract from it and put it to good use. In Aristotles account, a virtuous action must come from a virtuous state which is aimed at human happiness. The virtues represent a kind of 1 Noddings, Caring, a feminine approach to ethics and moral edu cation, 172.
41 harmony within an individual. Aristotle is both describing and prescribing. He st arts with observations of the nature of the human animal, as creatures of habit that seem t o have conflicts within themselves, between their animal and rational parts. This is observable in a persons actions and his related emotions. Aristotle prescribe s a formula for what he believes individuals seek in life. My being virtuous and teaching children virtue an individual can find happiness or satisfaction in the attainment of ones natura l human end of perfection. 1 Modern Challenges to Virtue Ethics Theory from Aristotles Work As I have indicated, I plan to draw on Aristotles work for some of the structur e of care-based virtue ethics theory. Before I move on from Aristotle to Aquinas, I need to address two interrelated challenges which are unique to virtue ethics t heories. These problems relate to Aristotle and will help introduce Aquinass religious account o f virtue. The first problem is the close tie between virtue ethics theory and Aristotle s work. The second problem is the connection between Aristotle and religion. Since deontological and utilitarian theories are relatively new, they have reasonably clear recent foundations from which most modern theories have been buil t. On the other hand, virtue ethics theory carries with it the legacy of Aristotle s work. His work is generally considered the foundation of modern virtue ethics theories. 2 Some modern authors, such as Alasdair MacIntyre, have argued that there is great merit in a 1 Veatch, Hendry B., A Modern Interpretation of Aristotelian Ethics, 186. 2 See Stephen Gardiner introduction to Virtue Ethics Old and New where he discusses the paradox between the arguments that contemporary wor k in virtue ethics is in its theoretical infancy and the historical account that the likes of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, Aquinas, and (perhaps ) Hume and Nietzsche have forms of virtue ethics theories He believes this bifurcation is now beginning t o dissolve and in fact that is the intent of the com pilation of articles in this text which he edited. 3.
42 return to Aristotles theory. MacIntyre concludes that the modern state of mora lity in the world represents the failure of three centuries of moral philosophy and one of one of sociology to develop a valid moral theory centered on the liberal individualistic poi nt of view espoused by these projects. 1 He argues that the Aristotelian tradition can be restated in a way that restores intelligibility and rationality to our mora l and social attitudes and commitments. 2 So much has been written about the NE and Aristotles other related or unrelated works, that it is difficult to simply extract somet hing from his theory and use it, or to reference something like the NE as a complete theory. Aristotles theory was by no means complete but it is a great foundational document. This proble m can be stated as the difficulty in developing a modern virtue ethics theory base d on Aristotles work, without being construed as bringing all, or most of his other components along. Resolution of this first problem is highlighted in the project of Hursthouse. She pulls the valuable components out of Aristotles work and leaves the problematic parts behind. I have the same intention. The second problem, somewhat unique to virtue ethics, is also pointed out by MacIntyre. This is the connection between Aristotles virtue ethics theory a nd western religious traditions. MacIntyre states that no doctrine vindicated itself i n so wide a variety of contexts as did Aristotelianism: Greek, Islamic, Jewish and Chr istian; that when modernity made its assaults on an old order world its most perceptive exponents understood that it was Aristotelianism that had to be overthrown. 3 He does not elaborate 1 MacIntyre, After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory 259. 2 Ibid., 259. 3 Ibid.,118.
43 in any detailed manner on this comment (other than to espouse the fact that Aristotelianism is philosophically the most powerful of pre-modern modes of moral thought 1 ) but he implies that the connection was very tight between Aristotles notions and many of the doctrines of western religions. The assault which MacIntyre i s referring to comes from both the scientific revolutions effect on religious beliefs, and the effects of the separation of church and state espoused in the modern democratic state, particularly in the United States. My project is designed to address this se cond problem. Obviously a large part of the close connection between Aristotelian virtue ethics a nd religion (particularly Christian religion) was forged by Aquinas. I plan to e xtract some of the value out of what Aquinas constructed based on Aristotles work and his virtue e thics, and leave behind the problematic areas related to Christianity. I have repeatedly tried to qualify my use of Aristotles work and I will apply the same qualification for my use of Aquinass work, as I enter a discuss ion of his virtue of charity. My intent to draw on a narrow component of his complex system and utilize i t within the care-based virtue ethics theory I plan to outline. However, MacIntyre s commentary offers some insight into what I find exciting about making the connect ion between Aristotles work on virtue, charity, and the use of care in the functional rol e of charity. What I understand MacIntyre to be saying is that when modern soci ety threw out religion, it threw out Aristotle. In extracting religion from the educati on system it seems that much of the morality of Aristotle came out with it. My project is to reinst ate Aristotle and the excellent contributions Aquinas made to his work, through the virtue of care. 1 MacIntyre, After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory 118.
44 Aquinas and Aristotle Moving from Aristotle to Aquinas requires some introductory comments. Philippa Foot expresses the close nature of the relationship between the two, in tha t by and large Aquinas followed Aristotlesometimes even heroicallywhere Aris totle gave an opinion, and where St. Thomas is on his own, as in developing the doctrine of theological virtues of faith, hope and charity, and in his theocentric doctrine of happines s, he still uses an Aristotelian framework where he can: as for instance in spea king of happiness as man's last end. 1 However, she goes on to discuss the fact that Aquinas had different emphasis in some areas. While there are many similarities be tween them, an important difference is pointed out by Martin Stone in his analysis of both of the ir theories. Most notably Stone points out that Aquinass ethics is always secondary t o his theology. 2 For example, while his natural law theory has similarities to the natural ism in Aristotle, Aquinas starts with the premise that natural law proceeds from Gods reason and fits with man because it was instilled into him. 3 While the relationship between Aristotle and Aquinas is close, Stone warns us that we need to be careful not to get too carried away the similarities. Stone thinks another important difference between their theories comes out of Aquinass focus on theology. Stone does not believe that Aquinas should be included among the pantheon of so-called virtue ethicists at least as this term is presently 1 Philippa Foot, Virtues and Vices 1. 2 See discussion in Stone, The Angelic Doctor and t he Stagirite: Thomas Aquinas and Contemporary Aristotelian Ethics, 104-105. 3 See Stone Discussion, The Angelic Doctor and the Stagirite: Thomas Aquinas and Contemporary Aristotelian Ethics, 107-108.
45 understood. 1 Stone does not consider Aquinass theory as virtue ethics to some degree because of the historical setting, but more particularly the differen ce arises from the theological context of Aquinass work. Aquinas has a strong sense of duty to God underlying his theory and thus his theory could be considered more of a deontological theory. My thesis is that without the theological aspects, Aquinas has an except ional virtue ethics theory. Further, as already noted by Foot, Aquinas worked things out in much more detail than Aristotle. 2 I believe there is great value to be found in this detail. However, the theological aspects of Aquinass work are found throughout his theory and it will take a significant effort to review all of his work without them. That is why I have keep a narrow focus within Aquinass work. My goal is to lay the foundation for a lat er full reworking of Aquinass theory, using care in place of charity. I will c arry forward much if what I have taken from Aristotle, but in this thesis I will limit i n what I borrow from Aquinas. I will focus my work on charity to the section Aquinas dedicates to it in the Disputed Questions on the Virtues although I will review some limited commentary from the Summa I will maintain this narrow focus to try to control the scope of my thesis. In addition, what I plan to discuss is the role of charity found in that section and the similarities between it and charity. My focus will be on taking the foundati onal aspects of charity and demonstrating how care can fill this role. From this foundation there will be many opportunities for developing the structure of a virtue ethics theory si milar to 1 Stone, The Angelic Doctor and the Stagirite: Thom as Aquinas and Contemporary Aristotelian Ethics, 125. 2 Philippa Foot, Virtues and Vices 2.
46 Aquinas, without the theological problems. I will point the direction to some of these opportunities in sections of the body of this thesis and in my concluding comments. Along with his account of virtue, the most important part of Aristotles virtue ethics theory is found in reason, and in particular prudence. As Stone points out, Aquinass account of moral reasoning is consistent with Aristotles view. 1 However, Aristotles account of reason has problems which Aquinas seeks to address. If we consider the problems with reason in modern terms, they are similar to problems found i n deontological or utilitarian theories. This problem can be seen in taking a form of logi cal reasoning and trying to apply it to an ethical situation. There is the appearance t hat there is an algorithm, form of calculation or logical argument which could be used that woul d lead to the correct action to take in a situation. If all the parameters and fac ts about the situation can be entered into the formula, an answer will be produced. While prudence incorporates aspects of the logic of reason, there is something in the practica l side which cannot be addressed in a formula. It could be that there are too many inputs for any human to manage, or it may be that the issue of the indeterminacy of the future that makes resolution of a problem impossible. It could be in the problems related to understanding choice and free will. Most likely it is a combination of all of thes e issues. While Aquinas would not have viewed the problems in this fashion, he might have seen similar issues. Reason needs to be grounded in a first principle. Aristotles function argument is built around reason and he tried to ground this theory in eudaimonia Along with other possible problems with Aristotles account, Aquinas addresses two specific issues. First, Aristotles function argument does not 1 See Stone Discussion, The Angelic Doctor and the Stagirite: Thomas Aquinas and Contemporary Aristotelian Ethics, 125.
47 address question about the designer of the function of humans, just like the designer of a tool determines its function and thus excellence. Secondly, reason allows one to sta rt with different first principles to attain this end. Aristotle devoted a whole section of the NE to discussing some of the misconceptions about what leads to happiness. However, other than prudence, he never really provides an answer to what it is that ties all the virtues together or grounds them all, other than the end of eudaimonia As discussed earlier in relation to utilitarian theories, what makes people happy is still something which is not a settled issue. Aquinas solves both of these problems with God. God designed humans and He is the end. The virtue of charity ties all the virtues together a nd connects them to God. If Aquinass work can be utilized without the theological underpinning it will provide a very strong structure for a virtue ethics theory. A s Stone points out, Aquinas reveals a way of talking about the virtues and of their place withi n the moral life that is rarely articulated within modern-day ethics and h e believes that this might help to provoke virtue ethicists to broaden their chronological horizons and consider the vast materials of reflection about the virtues that can be found in me dieval and early modern philosophy. 1 1 Stone, The Angelic Doctor and the Stagirite: Thom as Aquinas and Contemporary Aristotelian Ethics, 128.
48 Chapter 4: Charity There are several different meanings associated with the word charity. Al though Aristotle did not discuss charity he did have some virtues which might be considered similar to charity, such as liberality, magnificence and friendship. However, none of them capture the depth of Aquinass notion of charity. While Aristotle classified t he virtues into two broad groupings, the moral and the intellectual virtues, charity is a pa rt of a whole new category of virtues which Aquinas developed and called the theologica l virtues. While I will mainly focus on Thomas Aquinass definition of charity as a virtue, I will also refer to the other related aspects of his theory where necessar y. In this section I will provide an overview of charity. I will also discuss more of the deta ils of charity in the section later on regarding the similarities between care and charity and how care can fill the role of charity. In building on Aristotles work, Aquinas added virtues in the new category of theological virtues. The theological virtues are faith, hope and charity. 1 The primary distinguishing characteristic of a theological virtue is the fact that it is infused by God and not something an individual could acquire on his own. This new categorization could be considered an extension of, or connected to, Aristotles work in two ways. While this is a loose connection, I believe it is an important one. This connect ion 1 These are not the only virtues infused by God. The re are other virtues which, while not construed as theological, are infused such as the infused ver sions of some moral virtues. These three are the p rimary theological virtues. See Discussion in Williams, Thomas Aquinas Disputed Questions on Virtues, xxvii.
49 contains an important thread not only in the transition from Aquinas to Aristotle, but also to some of the notions of care that I will be addressing. The first way the theologi cal virtues are connected to Aristotles virtues of character stems from Ar istotles discussion that a human being has a proper function, based on the design of a human. Aristotle leaves open the question of who was the designer of humans. Aquinas answers this question directly, attributing the design of humans to God through the rational soul, which is brought into being directly by God. 1 Gods hand in human design is one of the foundations of Aquinass theory. It is in the rational part of the soul that Aristotle finds the excellence of the function of a human and in which Aquinas sees the hand of God. The second connection between the theological virtues and the virtues of character is in the similarity between one particular aspect of both ty pes of virtues. The theological virtues are infused into humans by God. Humans cannot do anything to acquire a theological virtue like charity except prepare ourselves to r eceive charity from God. 2 However, while it is not possible to acquire charity on her own, Aquinas sees human charity as something that an individual can improve on. Charity can become more complete in a person through her actions not by growing in quantity, but by intensifying in quality. 3 Aquinas does not believe that a person can possess complete charity in this earthly life because that can only happen in the presence of God, but he does believe that in this life a person can possess charity completely in relati on to the 1 Williams, Thomas Aquinas Disputed Questions on Virtues, 65 2 Ibid., 77 3 Ibid., 171.
50 stage of time. 1 Aquinas contrasts this to an acquired virtue which is caused by its subject and is not wholly dependent on something external as charity is. 2 In a similar fashion, Aristotle states that none of the virtues of character arises in us na turally so that they arise in us neither by nature nor against nature. Rather, we are by na ture able to acquire them, and we are complete through habit (1103a19-25). Aquinass theological virtues come from outside the human, from God. Aristotles moral virtue s must be acquired also, so in a sense they come from outside the human. The sense that Aristotle has is that it is the obligation of the community to prepare children for be ready to develop the virtues. While there is not a direct correlation between Aquinass sentiment of receiving an infused virtue, and then intensifying it, and Aristotle s notion of being equipped by nature and prepared by society to acquire a virtue, and then developing it, there is a parallel. The two connections between Aristotles and Aquinass notions of virtue are that there is need of something to ground reason ( eudaimonia or God) and that humans must somehow obtain certain virtues (from society or God). These two general concept s are important to the notion of virtue ethics. I will try to address these foundational issues from a third perspective in care-based virtue ethics theory. I will try to ac complish this by building on the specific characteristics and roles Aquinas develops for chari ty as part of his solution to these two issues. 1 Williams, Thomas Aquinas Disputed Questions on Virtues, 168. 2 Ibid., 193.
51 In the place which Aquinas puts it, charity is not only a virtue, but the most powerful of the virtues. 1 What is unique about how Aquinas construes charity is that it is not only an important virtue, but it has a role to play in all the virtues. It unifies the virtues and as such is (i) the form of the virtues, (ii) their moving cause, and (iii ) their root. 2 The first part of this sentiment indicates that in some sense every virtue is a form, type or variety of charity. The second part indicates that charity is the ac tion component of a virtue causing movement or motivation and, in keeping with Aristotelian aspec ts of Aquinas, implies that charity has some relation to prudence. Finally as t he root of virtue, charity has a connection to first principles and other virtues grow from charity. I will briefly review each of these aspects of charity. Every virtue takes some part of its form from charity. Aquinas states tha t charity is the love of God. However this love must be qualified. The infinite love of God can only be received by humans in a finite way. 3 Thus God infuses a love similar to His love into humans. Gods love is a very powerful thing, beyond the ability of a human to handle, so He provides a human version which is found in charity. While the love God given humans is to be returned to God, Aquinas also construes charity to be something humans need to use in their earthly life. This is because charity has two obje cts: God and neighbor. 4 God always maintains the primary role, so that the neighbor is loved 1 Williams, Thomas Aquinas Disputed Questions on Virtues 119. 2 Ibid., 124. 3 Ibid., 109. 4 Ibid., 128.
52 only for the sake of God. 1 However, loving a neighbor for the sake of God is a very powerful sentiment for Aquinas. He takes these two sentiments, love of God and love of neighbor, and uses them as a part of charity in its function underling the virtues, a s their form. Things like honesty, courage or temperance are forms of the love of God or neighbor. As the moving cause of the virtues, charity in turn moves the individual to action. Charity is the disposition of the love of, and from God, that a person expresses in the actions she takes in life. Individuals possess the created disposition of charity which can be the formal principle of an action of love. 2 Aquinas places God and neighbor out in front of the virtues as the good, so that all the actions of all the virtues are ordere d towards the highest good as something loved. 3 It is charity which is the moving cause of all the virtues, in that it commands the activities of all the other virtues. 4 Finally, every virtue is rooted in the love of God and neighbor found in charity. In Aristotles theory, it is the higher capacity of reason, as the human func tion, to which the virtues are ordered. 5 Aquinass builds the structure one level higher, so that God, through charity, is the highest order capacity which moves the lower capaci ties and thus the lower are ordered towards the goal of the higher. 6 In order to connect charity to Aristotles notion of a virtue and the resulting action a human takes, Aquinas relate s 1 Williams, Thomas Aquinas Disputed Questions on Virtues 131. 2 Ibid., 111. 3 Ibid., 125. 4 Ibid., 125. 5 See discussion in Aristotle (1098a1-20). 6 Williams, Thomas Aquinas Disputed Questions on Virtues 125.
53 charity to reason and prudence. He does this through the concept of the will. The will is a complex topic in Aquinas. However, for my thesis I will take a narrow focus and primarily address the will in relation to charity. Aquinas adds to Aristotles discussion of the struggle between reason and the lower animal parts of the soul. He builds on Aristotles discussion of this struggle through the development of the concept of the will. Aquinass notion of the will is not found in Aristotle, but is related to the appetitive and desiderative parts of a pers ons soul which participates in reason and both listens to reason and obeys it (1102b30). Aquinas follows Aristotles lead in stating that the soul controls the phys ical movement of the body in a despotic way. For example, unless externally constrained, if a person commands her arm to move, it will move. However, Aquinas states that reason contr ols the lower parts of the soul with a royal or political rule, i.e. as kings or princes of cities control free men, who have the right and ability to resist with respect to some of t he orders a king or prince might give. 1 The lower part of the soul has the ability to resist reason. The virtues help reason to get the lower parts of the person to cooperate and a re a kind of tendency or completeness in the sensory desire that will enable it to obe y reason easily. 2 Aquinas introduces the will into the struggle in this middle ground. In Aquinass theory, the human faculties capable of possessing virtue are (i ) intelligence, (ii) will, and (iii) lower desire, which is divided into the s ensual and the aggressive parts. 3 Aquinas construes each of these three parts as having (a) receptivity 1 Williams, Thomas Aquinas Disputed Questions on Virtues 23. 2 Ibid., 23. 3 Ibid., 46.
54 to virtue and (b) an active principle of virtue. 1 The will is the key component within the human soul. Charity is in the will, which is the only capacity which possesses it, so that charity is considered the virtue of the will. 2 Charity is also the form of the virtues or the principle of all the other virtues in this sense, in that it moves them all towa rds its own end. 3 In this function then, charity is the force that moves the will. One of the primary roles for the will is as actuator of the body. Reason determines wha t is good and the will aims at something that it understands as good as presented to it by reason. 4 The will then actuates the body, cajoling it into following what the will pe rceives as good. Charity plays the primary role in this actuation. Charity, the love of God and neighbor, moves the will, and the will moves the individual. Charity is the love of God. Aquinas puts theology first and thus charity, the love of God, is the virtue which keeps God as primary. It is important to note that without charity, there would be circularity in Aquinass theory. This is because the will is needed to get the intelligence in motion for t he person to do anything since the will qua active moves the intelligence. 5 Reason presents something to the will, which the will pursues. Yet the will actuates reason towar d the good which reason presents. Aquinas resolves this circularity through charity. It is charity which moves the will and thus charity which moves the intelligence or reason. Without charity, the intelligence can present the wrong thing to the will as g ood. The 1 Williams, Thomas Aquinas Disputed Questions on Virtues 46. 2 Ibid., 127. 3 Ibid., 88. 4 Ibid., 49. 5 Ibid., 127.
55 will which contains charity seeks God and both moves the intelligence to seek the prop er end and moves the individual to take the proper action. In moving the will, charity plays the primary role in Aquinass theory, in a place ahead of reason. In the role chari ty plays in Aquinass theory, it represents the first principle, as it relates to God, Who i s the ultimate first principle. Charity moves the will and in this sense it may be thought of as prior to reason. Stated as a thesis, Aquinass ethical theory is based on the principle that any disposition rooted in charity, or which is a form of charity, is a virtue. Any action t aken based on this type of virtue is the right, ethical action. This is based on the connection t o God provided by charity. The desire to unite to God, which is the love of God, and the related love of neighbor, is provided to virtues and thus action by charity. The desi re to unite with God is also the motivation found in charity which is the moving cause of the action coming from a virtue.
56 Chapter 5: Care-Based Virtue Ethics Theory I develop care-based virtue ethics (CVE) theory in the form of a generic a pplied ethics theory. In order to outline the structure I build around CVE, I need to limit t he parts I address. I start with a general statement of the problem to be solved. Next, a central hypothesis or idea is developed, with an interrelated group of ideas. Som e assumptions or premises are introduced and a logical argument is presented. Peter Simpson offers some helpful guidance for virtue ethics theory construction. Simpson argues that a virtue ethics theory should give at least a reasoned account of wha t virtue in general is and why it is necessary to be virtuous, or why being virtuous is good. 1 He also believes that there should be some account of the kinds of the particular virtues, wh y they are good and what acts emanate from those virtues. He believes that a ppealing to Aristotles notion of human happiness, or appealing to flourishing alone, does not fulfil l these qualifications. My formulation of CVE theory addresses these issues in outline form. I present a thesis and argument that as a virtue, care is universal and can be justified as a pr imary ethical principle. I draw on some of the commentary related to Aristotles and Hursthouses arguments, to address the application of care and how it relates to the s tatus of acts. The central feature related to the nature of a virtue is drawn out of Aqui nass notions of charity. 1 Simpson, Contemporary Virtue Ethics and Aristotle , 246.
57 The Problem I have already briefly discussed the problems with both Utilitarian and Kan tian ethics. In that discussion, I also drew on the work of Hursthouse in addressing some of the challenges virtue ethics theories face. My aim in this section is to frame the problem by discussing an overarching problem with ethics in general. The CVE theor y outline follows Aristotle, who opened and closed the NE stressing the point that the aim of his enquiry was not just knowledge, but action. In the early part of the 20 th century, P.S. Burrell described ethics as a form of practical philosophy. It is intended to hel p a person discover in general terms what he ought to do, why he should do it, and motivate him to follow its principles. These instructions should be in a format such that a person can apply the theory to his day to day life. 1 An ethical theory must set down instructions which a person can follow regarding what he ought to do in any particular moral sit uation he may face. However, that is not always easy to accomplish. The difficulty of the struggle in ethics is found in the constantly changing nature of the world and the nature of the human animal. The problem remains the same today as it was in the time of Aristotle, in that it is the business of everybody to determine what is the best for him to do or to be, but as the situation in which he finds himself is different for every individual and is constantly changing from moment to moment, the particular problem with which each has to deal shall I do this? or shall I do that? is always changing a nd always new. 2 While ethical situations may have similarities, no two will ever be exac tly the 1 See Burrell Discussion, The Problem of Ethics, 6 3. 2 Burrell, The Problem of Ethics, 62.
58 same. Not only does each situation vary, but every individual person is unique in a wide variety of ways. Aristotle recognized the difficulties presented by the fact that there is no clear cut answer which can be imposed on a specific individual moral dilemma. His doctrine of the mean is an effort to address this problem. A courageous action is something which falls somewhere between the extremes of cowardice and rashness. In Socrat ic fashion, Aristotle states that there is no definitive, objective or exact notion of courag e which can be applied universally to individuals in different specific situations, no matte r how similar the situations appear. The mean is not one, and is not the same for all but is intermediate relative to us (1106a30-1106b10). This does not imply that there is no courageous action, just that the person and circumstances determine the measure of morality in the action. It is clear to Aristotle that there is only one wa y to be correct (1106b32). However, this is not a universal way, but a specific way of being correct, given all the circumstances surrounding the individual and the situation encountered If it were possible to account for all aspects of a situation, and the history of the individual life, then the one way of being correct might be objectively definable. The s tructure of virtue ethics theory which Aristotle outlines takes this into account. That is why h e gives prudence such an important role. Aristotle states that the mean, which is define d by reference to reason, is to be determined as the prudent person would define it (1107a1-4). There is a hierarchy in everyday ethical decision making. The mor al character of an individual is based on his dispositions. His dispositions (virtues) are based on principles, and principles provide rules to individuals to guide action. The circumstances determine the right action. An honest and courageous individual follows
59 the principles of honesty, courage and prudence. Since principles are flexi ble enough to allow for the variety of situations, an individual can determine which rules to apply to a situation and how to apply them. The problem with this simplistic scenario is found in determining how to properly construct a virtue ethics theory, one that will h ave a solid structural foundation from which to ground the principles, provide flexible, useful a ction guidance, and avoid being relativistic. In addition, the theory should be built from t he bottom up, so that the action creates the virtuous disposition. Hypothesis The central thesis of the CVE theory is that a properly construed notion of c are, instilled and developed in an individual, can provide the foundational basis of moral decision making. Properly developed, the virtue of care is the naturalistic form, moving cause and root of all the other virtues. Any action taken based on a disposition which is a form of care is ethical. Stated another way, a care based action is an ethic al action. The virtue of care is based on a clearly defined notion. It has a naturalistic, uni versal aspect. As a part of instinctive human animal nature, care is in everyone. Care is a na tural characteristic of a human. A second, higher level of this natural care can be instilled in an individual, starting at the very earliest moments of his or her life. This second level of care, while based primarily on the maternal relationship, includes considera tion of the paternal aspects and anyone involved in the care and upbringing of a child. The natura l care, and care instilled early in life, can be drawn out of any individual a nd developed into the highest level of care, which is relational care. This highest level of level of care contains the instinctive and emotional content of both of the first two levels, and is wher e
60 the element of reason begins to play a more significant role. It serves as the ba sis for relations with others. As the root of other virtues, over a lifetime, the other virt ues grow out of care. Any action taken, based on a disposition which is rooted in care, will be ethical. Care is the primary virtue and moves the individual to action through the wil l. Care is the virtue of the will. In this capacity, it resides in the middle of the human soul, connecting the desires/appetites and reason. Through care based ethical a ction, developed into the virtues, individuals can create a moral society, and hopefully ac hieve some level of harmony. Parts of the CVE thesis obviously sounds a lot like the portions of Aristotles and Aquinass theories which I have been discussing. My thesis is to propose that wha t I have drawn out of Aristotles work would be carried into Aquinass theory. It would then be possible to rework Aquinass theory using care. There are several importa nt differences between CVE and Aquinass theory, which I address in more deta il when I discuss the various components of CVE. However, there is one significant differen ce with what I bring from Aristotle. One of Aristotles goals in the NE was to provide instructions in how to become virtuous. A virtuous person would flourish, or have the happiness of eudaimonia However, Aristotelian virtuous agents are very rare individuals. Not only must the virtuous agent have mastered all the virtues within himself, but he must also have external goods including things like health and frie ndship. Aquinas might be said to have a goal similar to Aristotle. However, the aim of A quinass theory is to direct the individual in how to become a saint, a person who is in some way united with God. A saint is also a very rare individual. The goal of CVE theory is to
61 provide a notion of virtue which is more attainable, while at the same time challe nging an individual to achieve a level of moral excellence. The notion of a virtuous individual in CVE theory is someone who excels at being an ethical human being. At each stage of life, an individual will both be able to at tain a level of virtue and yet still have room to improve. Development of the virtues is a lifetime undertaking. This idea of development is in keeping with Aristotle s and Aquinass theories of virtue ethics. However, within CVE theory, making progress with any and every other virtue is based on the continual development of the central virt ue of care. The excellence in each virtue is rooted in the excellence of care at an y stage of an individuals life. Each of the other virtues is developed at different paces, for differ ent people, depending on the events in their lives. The way to understand how care functions in this role is found in Aquinass notion of charity. God gives charity to an individual. 1 Charity is the love of God and neighbor. A person with charity can still be considered virtuous to some degree, even though he is imperfect, because there is charity in all his efforts. In his discussi ons in Article 13 of the Disputed Questions on Virtues ( DQV ) Aquinas explains how charity is not destroyed by one bad act. Rather, charity is only lost when a person turns completely away from God or in a sense, gives up any attempt to be charitable (to love God). 2 Jean Porter, in a footnote to an article in which she discusses the problem of understanding what unites the virtues, or is common to all of them, observes that Aquinas allows for a great deal more 1 Aquinas uses the terminology of infusing charity into an individual. See discussion in Williams, Thomas Aquinas Disputed Questions on Virtues, 66-69. 2 Aquinass discussion is more theological. He is c oncerned with mortal sin, which represents a serious offense against God, versus some of the les ser sins. See discussion in Williams, Thomas Aquinas Disputed Questions on Virtues, 190-193.
62 actual imperfection on the part of those who are virtuous through grace, than those who are virtuous through their own labors. 1 An individual can make some mistakes and still have charity, thus he would still be considered virtuous. An Aristotelian type of virtuous person must have all the virtues and not take any unethical actions to maintain the st atus of virtuous agent. Aquinas allows for flexibility in this aspect of virtue because he has set the bar higher. His goal is the saintly individual, united with God. The imperfect human can still love God, while struggling to be ethical in earthly life. In a si milar manner, an individual with the virtue of care may not have fully developed all, or an y, of the other virtues in an Aristotelian sense. To help separate the notion of what it mea ns to be a virtuous agent within the CVE theory, I will utilize the term virtuoso human. I f a person has a properly developed virtue of care, for her at any particular sta ge and place in her life, she would be a virtuoso human. In following Aquinas, the virtuoso human would continue to develop care, no matter what mistakes she made in life. As long as sh e had the virtue of care she would be virtuous. The term virtuoso human also carries another important connotation about how an individual becomes virtuous. I will provide a brief introduction of the idea of a virtuoso human here because it is important to kee p this notion in mind as I develop the notion of care. I then conclude my thesis with a more definitive description. As a notion, it follows the parallel Aristotle draws betw een virtue and skill. As Aristotle explains it, a virtue is similar to a skill or craft. The problem of ethics, as I have described it, is that there are no clear cut answers to use in specific ethical situations. Aristotle compares ethics to the areas of health or navi gation, where 1 Porter, Jean. (Spring, 1993), The Unity of the Vi rtues and the Ambiguity of Goodness: a Reappraisal of Aquinass Theory of the Virtues, 13 9.
63 the agents themselves must consider in each case what the opportune action is ( 1104a510). There is a certain knack involved which needs to be applied to the situation. 1 Generally someone who becomes very skilled in an area, like medicine or music, st arts with some inherent ability. An exceptionally talented piano player generall y has some level of musical ability which she appears to be born with. Training, education and practice draw out this talent. As the talent is pulled out, it develops and with enough work, she could excel to the level of virtuoso performer. The virtuoso performer is considered extremely skilled at her particular craft. However, not every one has a musical, medical or other innate talent which can be developed to some level of excellence. However, every human has the ability to care. This is central t o the CVE thesis. First Principle A basic premise or first principle of CVE theory is that everyone has som e measure of the ability to care. They are born with it as a form of good insi de them. This is to some degree a normative claim. However it requires no more than claimi ng that an individual exists, and that she has some inherent or instinctive desire to continue existence. This desire is found in the notion that she cares about her existence and sustaining her life. This inherent desire to continue existing is the first pri nciple of the three component parts of the concept of care. This three part form of care is a na tural ability within every human. It can be drawn out of anyone and developed to a level to 1 In the case of a craft, the excellence can be foun d in the object, whereas with a virtue the excellence must be in the action and how the virtuo us individual performs the action. See discussion (1105a20-35).
64 which any person can become a virtuoso human. Through care, a person could excel a t being human at each stage for her life. Furthermore, everyone has the opportunity t o perform ethical acts. Repeated ethical actions based on care determine dispos itions. The care which goes into ethical actions creates the dispositions which become t he virtues. One of the most important elements of ethics is the care we give to our children in drawing out this initial talent or caring capacity. In this regard, children can begin to put care into their actions at a very early stage in life and thus develop caring dispositions. Developing caring dispositions can occur long before any advanced level of reasonin g begins. As Aristotle states in Book X of the NE the soul of the student needs to have been prepared by habits for enjoying and hating finely, like ground that is to nouris h seed (1179b25-26). The next step in CVE theory is built on developing the care we give to ourselves and others. Care as a Foundation The purpose of my thesis is to outline the foundation and structure of a full theory built on the thesis and principles of CVE theory, which I have just briefly introduce d. Much of this outline will be centered on how care can fulfill the foundational role of Aquinass notion of charity. There are many similarities between care and cha rity. Each of these concepts can be viewed as an emotion, a disposition and in a central role in an ethical theory. The first parallel between charity and care is found in tha t they are emotions which are similar in nature. Charity is the love of God. In one sense of t he word, to care for someone expresses an emotional connection which could be considered a weaker form of love. Care is an emotion felt toward someone or something. To love
65 someone contains some level of caring. They both can also be construed as dispositions around the emotion. An individual is considered charitable, in Aquinass sense, if she loves God from a firm and unchanging state. A person is caring if they care for ot hers from a caring disposition. Finally, the foundational sense of charity relat es to the role it serves as in Aquinass theory. It encapsulates his theology. Morality in human life is ordered toward God in Aquinass theory, through the love found in charity. The love in charity becomes the connection between God and an ethical action involving anot her person. This is the conception of charity (love) as foundational in Aquinas, focused on the ethics involved in human interaction. Humans have an emotional bond with God which is expressed in charitable action toward neighbor. Aquinas has what might be visualized as a straight between an ethical action, the love of God and the love of neighbor. The three interconnected concepts which I develop for care, instinctive maternal and relational, provide a similar foundational principle of a carebased virtue ethics theory. Humans have an emotional bond with others which is expressed in care. Care has a straight line at the point of the ethical action, which is caring for another person. But the line has three prongs at the other end, which are instinctive car e for ones own life, care for the life provided as represented in the maternal notion of care and care for others found in relational care. A part of all three of these is incorporated in a n ethical action. In order to explain this conception, I need to first refine and further develop the notion of care. The concept of care, like charity, has a number of different connotations. This is the starting point for developing a conception of care which is an emotion, virtue and ca n serve as the foundation for an ethical theory. The concept of care is fairly broad i n its
66 definition and even more so in its everyday use. A look at a dictionary will provide a good idea of how generally the word care can be used. With the notion of care, there is the idea of a person being troubled or having anxiety regarding someone or something. This definition of care comes from the notion of feeling interest or concern about something. Furthermore, this feeling can have an active component, where a per son then wants to do something about the object of care, to relieve what is troubling or change the situation. Care also connotes the responsibility, burden for, or watchful attention t o someone or something. A person may be charged with the care of an elderly rela tive or of a valuable item. This definition of care can also contain the active compone nt of doing something for someone else. Care can be more passive in its definition, such as the ca re directed at a thing that is the object of attention or concern. Care can furthe r be construed as a fondness or enjoyment of something, as in caring for the taste of a particula r food. In this context, value can be assigned to the object of care. In the common vernacular, it is even considered a synonym for, or a component of, prudence. I will return to the relationship between care and prudence. This relation parallels that of char ity and prudence. In its usage related to prudence, a person may be warned to take care, by which is meant that she needs to be prudent in her action. To take care not to make a mistake in a given action, can be construed as being prudent. Alternatively if a person is prudent, they are considered to have taken proper care in their actions. In order to compare care to charity it will be necessary to narrow the definition of care. The starting point for developing the meaning of care to be used in CVE theory is the concept as defined by Nel Noddings in Caring, a feminine approach to ethics and moral education (1984). Her approach involves an emphasis on both the relational and
67 the naturalistic aspects of ethics. Noddings acknowledges the many different uses of the word care but composes her central definition of care in a manner which has simil arities to the way Aquinas clarifies and narrows his use of the concept charity. She s tarts by describing care as an emotion in the deep human sense and inside of which a person can feel a stir of desire or inclination. 1 It is one of the prime movers of a human. Throughout her work she emphasizes the power and importance her notion of care carries in human endeavors and in ethics. She construes care as the first enabling sentim ent without which there can be no ethical sentiment. 2 It is the human longing for relational caring that provides the motivation for us to be moral. 3 Noddings argues that ethical caring arises out of natural caring. Ethical caring is found in the relat ion in which we meet the other morally and where we respond to the other as one who cares out of love or natural inclination. 4 This human condition of natural caring is perceived as good. Noddingss natural care is one of the three interrelated definitions to ca re which she uses. All three definitions carry with them a sense of care which incl udes a sense of this love or natural inclination. Her three definitions of care are materna l care, instinctive care and relational care. The intensity of Noddingss notion of care is first expressed in her discussion of maternal care. This is her strongest version of care, and it is found in the bond between mother and child. This maternal care also contains the notion of a naturalistic car ing instinct. A mothers responsibility to take care of her own child is not only consi dered a 1 Noddings, Caring, a feminine approach to ethics and moral edu cation, 9. 2 Ibid., 79. 3 Ibid., 5. 4 Ibid., 4-5.
68 moral requirement, it is considered something natural and normal. Maternal car e embodies such an important obligation, that a woman who allows her own child to die of neglect is often considered sick rather than immoral. 1 This bond between a mother and child is the product of both a physical and emotional connection. Every human spent the first few months of his or her life, as part of his or her mother, another human being. In this stage of life the unborn child and the mother share everything physically and the child is wholly dependent on this one other person. During this period a very strong bond is created between the mother and child, in the form of an instinct or memory, which is a naturalistic grounding for the mother-child relationship. This bond, and the memory created, also provides an example to an individual of the connection and bond he should have with others. Noddings expresses what she sees as the intensity of this relat ionship in that mothers quite naturally feel with their infants. 2 A mother does not project onto her child or interpret his internal thoughts as commands or requests for help, but simpl y feels the infants feeling as her own. 3 A mother cares for her child in the internal sense of an emotional bond so that in one sense of maternal care, a mother has an attachment or feeling toward her child which is love. However, the maternal caring for a child also carries the sense of physically taking care of the child. In terms of the human animal instinct, this sense of caring could be considered care for the survival of the offspr ing and the species. 1 Noddings, Caring, a feminine approach to ethics and moral edu cation, 83. 2 Ibid., 31. 3 Ibid., 31.
69 Noddingss second definition of care is instinctive care. It is a part of mater nal care as it relates to the physical care of a child and the infants surviva l. The notion of care is not something confined to the human animal. It is something which appears to reside in a variety of animals. A sense of care is found in animal nature and thus is not postulated simply to address human behavior and human emotion. The instinctive nature of care can be observed at a very early age in humans. A child shows the capacity for love, tenderness, feeling and reciprocation of the love received long before the capacity for sustained reasoning develops. 1 Noddings postulates that the child is responding to a natural inclination, and in some instances this response could even be construed as altruism. The instinctive aspect of care is an observable animal behavior and Nodding s argues that defining care this way is not simply anthropomorphic. It is tr ue that humans add both the emotional content and the value component to naturalistic caring. This content added care is an expanded notion of caring which is generally applicable t o human relations. However, basic instinctive caring is shared with the animal s and is part of the human animal. The depth of the instinctive aspect of care is captured in comments made by Jack Miles, regarding Noddingss notion of caring, in that her deeply original book shows us how to think afresh about this most primeval of human relationships. 2 The primeval nature of care is an important component in Noddingss work. She ties the activities associated with the internal states of caring in a human, to human animal nature through a connection to behavior observed in animals. In this sense she argues that care ma y be 1 Noddings, Caring, a feminine approach to ethics and moral edu cation, 120. 2 Ibid., cover.
70 construed as inherent and instinctive. An animal will care for, nurture and protect its offspring. The same type of caring instinct which is exhibited toward an offspri ng can be observed in the caring for oneself in the desire for survival. The instinctive care for survival can be seen in an infant fighting an illness at birth or an adult having an instantaneous reaction to life threatening danger. While Noddings construes the primeval, instinctive description of care to be a deeply rooted part of human nature, she is aware of the problems associated with considering the human response of caring as instinctive. However, she argues tha t this concern is misguided and is a linguistic problem inherent in using the term instinc t in relation to the broader, more complex notion of human relational caring. Her claim is that the impulse to act on behalf of the present other is itself innate. 1 She describes natural caring as something which lies latent in each of us, awaiting gradu al development in a succession of caring relationships. 2 The main element of Noddings concept of care is built around this relational aspect of care. Noddings is primarily focused on relational care and her main notion of caring starts with the connection to others. Therefore she does not spend much time discussi ng the instinctive notion of care or exploring how it appears implicit in the human des ire to survive. However, she does briefly discuss how caring for oneself emerges fr om relationships and caring for others. She goes on to point out that without the initial c aring for ones self, the realities of others as possibilities for my own reali ty would mean 1 Noddings, Caring, a feminine approach to ethics and moral edu cation, 83. 2 Ibid., 83.
71 nothing to me. 1 In her account of care she states that an individuals ability to care fir st requires some measure of self-knowledge in that knowledge of what gives me pain a nd pleasure, precedes my caring for others. 2 Comments like this in Noddingss discussion of care sound similar to passages in Aristotle. For example, at one point he sta tes that virtues are concerned with actions and feelings; but every feeling and acti on implies pleasure or pain; hence, for this reason too, virtue is about pleasures and pains (1104b14-16). However, Noddings is careful to try to distance parts of her work from Aristotles notions of virtue. In the first printing of her text, Noddings specifically states that she does not want to contextualize care as a virtue. She wants to stress that the relationship betw een the care giver (one-caring) and the recipient of care (cared-for) is ont ologically basic. She believed that focusing on the virtues in an individual places too much importance on the person. The emphasis in her work is on the caring relation, so that caring is a relationship that contains another and that the one-caring and the cared-for a re reciprocally dependent. 3 Her emphasis on the relationship is so strong that in order to emphasize it she states that if the recipients of our care believe that nobody cares then caring relations do not exist. 4 Noddings notion of relational care requires a direct caring relationship between two people who know each other, interact with each other, and become united in their caring relationship. The two individuals involved need to know they are in a caring relationship. She also states that she builds her notion of 1 Noddings, Caring, a feminine approach to ethics and moral edu cation, 14. 2 Ibid., 14. 3 Ibid. 58. 4 Ibid., xiv.
72 relational caring from two sentiments. She classifies the first senti ment, found in the maternal and instinctive caring sentiments, as the sentiment of natural caring which is the initial, enabling sentiment. 1 This is based on the natural sympathy human beings feel for each other. 2 The second sentiment is the longing to maintain, recapture, or enhance our most caring and tender moments. 3 In some regard this second sentiment is also in remembrance of the first. 4 It is from these two sentiments, which are internal to an individual, that her ethical ideal springs. The ethical ideal is the proper bal ance of caring for others and self which is formed as a vision of best self. 5 While caring does deal with feelings and sentiments, she is clear to emphasize that she is not conc erned with the internal development of the concept of care as a virtue, at least not in the tradi tional sense. However, in comments she makes in the 2003 reprinting of her book, she believes that in reviewing her work anew and in light of the many comments from others, it is obvious that the way she describes care, it can be taken both in the relational sense and as a virtue. It is the notion of care as a virtue to which I will now turn. The Virtue of Care In Care Ethics and Virtue Ethics (2003) Rata Halwani argues that the concept of caring, as developed by Noddings, should be given the status of a virtue and should hold a prominent place in virtue ethics. She thinks this can be accomplished by 1 Noddings, Caring, a feminine approach to ethics and moral edu cation, 79. 2 Ibid., 104. 3 Ibid., 104. 4 Ibid., 79. Noddings refers to these as the love an d memory of which Nietzsche speaks. 5 Noddings, Caring, a feminine approach to ethics and moral edu cation, 80.
73 expanding on Noddingss definition of care. Halwanis argues that it is possibl e to define care as a virtue and then find a place for it within a virtue ethics theory. She believes that it may not be possible for care to be the sole foundation of an ethical theory. 1 This conclusion is due in part to her concern with the fact that she also believes that the status of care ethics (CE) as a moral theory is still unresolved. 2 While care ethics may not develop into a standalone theory, Halwanis wants to see that the ethical concept of care continues to be developed. Her challange is to find a theoretical framework w ithin which CE can be appropriately housed. 3 I believe care can be the primary foundation of a virtue ethics theory. However, I concur with her position that care cannot be the sole foundation of an ethical theory because, just as is the case with charity, care ne eds prudence as part of the foundation of the theory. Prudence must maintain its role bec ause at the heart of ethics is the fact that in the last resort every individual ac t must be the product of the individual judgment of each individual. 4 An ethical theory must not only give every person instructions regarding the right thing to do (and in some theories the right intention to have), but it must provide every person with a way to take action. In virtue ethics action occurs though the use of practical wisdom. Prudence and care can work together as the central virtues in CVE theory. Halwani addresses Noddings concern that care shouldnt be construed as a virtue because then we pay too much attention to our own characters, rather than focusing on 1 Halwani, Care Ethics and Virtue Ethics, 161. 2 Ibid., 161. 3 Ibid., 185. 4 Burrell, P.S., The Problem of Ethics, 62.
74 relationships. 1 Noddings has a very narrow focus on caring relations, which she argues exist solely between individuals who have a direct relationship. Noddingss focus is on the direct connection and thus she rejects the notion that a person can care for every one, at least not in the sense she intends it. Noddings notion requires the acknowledgement or appreciation of the caring by the cared-for. Thus as Noddings construes care, som eone cannot care for a person they will never meet or with whom they will never directl y interact. She also argues that an individual cannot care for non-human things such as animals or plants, which are incapable of returning the sentiment. Halwani a rgues that Noddingss notion of care can be expanded to a much broader concept. Care can be a broad based virtue, which can account for caring about anyone, caring for a variety of ethical issues, or caring about a specific situations which an individual might e ncounter. Halwani starts by identifying a virtuous person as someone who is not simply conce rned with relations, but one who is concerned with her character and her life: she is some one who cares that she maintains an ethical character and that her dealings wit h others are moral. 2 Halwani describes caring as a virtue in a more Aristotelian sense, as a dispos ition to care not only specifically about someone, but about a variety of things. While Noddings describes care as an emotional reaction to another person, the broader emotional area Halwani describes is related to human emotions such as conc ern, feelings of interest or liking. The disposition of care deals with an emotional arena or a sphe re of action, in a fashion similar to how courage deals with fear. She argues that Nodding ss 1 See Halwani discussion, Care Ethics and Virtue Et hics, 181. 2 Halwani, Care Ethics and Virtue Ethics, 175.
75 narrow relationship-based caring meets all the criteria of an Arist otelian virtue. Caring is obviously a state which would dispose the agent to act given the right circumstanc es. 1 Care also involves choice and it is ultimately up to the agent to decide whether or not to care in any given situation. 2 Caring also admits of a mean or Aristotelian type of excellence which, as Halwani indicates, was initially developed in Carol Gilligans book In a Different Voice (1992). A key part of Gilligans thesis is that a morally mature person must have th e right balance of caring in her life. A person develops her moral maturity in three s teps. In the beginning she cares only for herself. At the next level she cares excess ively for others to her own detriment. Finally she reaches the highest level of maturity. At this hi ghest level, she finds the appropriate balance of caring for herself and carin g for others. According to Gilligan, once a person reaches moral maturity, she develops a conce pt of goodness that incorporates the demands placed on her by others and that also accounts for her own self-worth. She finds the mean or excellence in care in her actions. In this mean of care the disparity between selfishness and responsibility dissolves. 3 Gilligans account is an explanation of moral maturity, rather than of an Aristotelian not ion of virtue. However, her account does demonstrate a form of harmony in the individual with a proper caring disposition. She also describes a continuum on which an individual can find the mean of the virtue of care. 1 Halwani, Care Ethics and Virtue Ethics, 182. 2 Ibid., 182. 3 Gilligan, Carol, In a Different Voice 94.
76 Halwani uses Gilligans work in developing the transition from Noddingss notion of care to an Aristotelian virtue of care. Care falls within the realm of the feeling of caring or concern. It is a disposition to which humans can be either well or ill disposed. An individual could care too little or too much about something or some person. Halwani states that caring admits of an Aristotelian mean. Just as with the ot her virtues, caring can be done right, as Aristotle describes the mean, or it can be done wrong: one can care for the wrong person (for example a morally corrupt one); one can exhibit care at the wrong time (for example attending to X whereas it is Y, a stranger, which needs the attention at the time); one can exhibit care about the wrong thing (for example supporting a project that should not be supported); one can care for the wrong reasons (for example I give you chocolate because I want you to stop crying); and in the wrong way (for example I calm your fears by lying to you). 1 Described in the form Halwani uses here, care can be put on an Aristotelian type of continuum in order to determine the mean of the virtue and the vices of the emotion of care. A deficiency of care on one end of the continuum could be described as total apathy, which would entail a feeling of absolutely no interest or concern. It c ould be no concern for the well being of anyone else or apathy for an almost any moral s ituation with which a person is faced. A person might not even be concerned with his own happiness, well being or general survival. On the other end of the continuum, the exce ss might be an obsessive disposition. It might be an overly controlling person who car es about every detail in his life, the lives of others around him or every moral dilem ma which arises. He may obsessively care, worry and be concerned with everyt hing, in an emotional state which encroaches on some form of paranoia or neurosis. The extrem es of 1 Halwani, Care Ethics and Virtue Ethics, 182.
77 the continuum are very negative, unethical dispositions. One may be called exces sive apathy and the other extreme neurosis. The vice in an action would be too much care, or to little care, for a specific situation, in the direction of either extreme Halwani concludes that caring is an excellence because, simply, it is a good trait to have. 1 It is a proper concern for the whole world around a person, which motivates her to ethical action. Action is taken both with the proper feeling of care an d with the proper reasoning from prudence. The closest virtue to care in Aristotles NE is friendship, which has some components which sound like care. Aquinas addresses friendship and at one point even construes charity as a kind of friendship with God. 2 There is a similarity with friendship in that care is considered a trait needed for flourishing because without proper care human beings cannot generally grow up t o lead mentally and emotionally healthy lives. 3 Halwani obviously takes the importance of care to be much greater than friendship. She states that the lack of care coul d strike at the heart of the agents flourishing qua human being both from the lack of intimate relationships and the general lack of sociality. 4 Considering some of Aristotles comments on politics he might also have concurred with this sentiment. Humans need others. A flourishing person is not a solitary person by himself, living an is olated life but someone who has the need of parents, children, wife, and, in general for friends a nd fellow citizens, since a human being is a naturally political [animal] (1097b7-12). 1 Halwani, Care Ethics and Virtue Ethics, 182. 2 Williams, Thomas Aquinas Disputed Questions on Virtues 30. 3 Halwani, Care Ethics and Virtue Ethics, 183. 4 Ibid., 183.
78 Care and Charity The notion of the virtue of care which I have been developing can play a role similar to that which charity serves in Aquinass theory. I will approac h this comparison of care and charity from several different angles. The parallels betwe en care and charity tend to center around three areas, upon which I will build the correlation. The first i s how the relationship with the mother, found in care, parallels the relation with God, found in charity. The second is the similarity between the instinctive nature of car e and the primacy of charity. Finally, there are aspects of care which mirror the component of charity which deals with the relations between people. The first connection between charity and care is found in the bond between a mother and her child. This starts during the gestation period, when the child is part o f the mother. This notion of care is a primeval, naturalistic bond between humans, which is best exemplified in the power of the relationship between a mother and her child. Noddings states that this maternal caring locates the motivation for mor ality in the preact consciousness. 1 Her discussion gives this conception of care immense strength, similar to the love in charity, which is the powerful bond of love between a person and God. Part of the Christian ethic is the notion that the love directed to God originates i n the fact that God created humans. God gave humanity existence and humans desire to reunite with God. It is charity which makes the soul long to be with Christ or t o be joined with God. 2 Aquinas builds his virtue ethics on charity as the disposition of the love of and from God, so that through it, a person expresses this love in the actions she 1 Noddings, Caring, a feminine approach to ethics and moral edu cation, 28. 2 Williams, Thomas Aquinas Disputed Questions on Virtues 177-178.
79 takes in her life. Aquinas states that people possess the created disposition of charity which can be the formal principle of an action of love. 1 Noddingss care is described with a similar strength to the love in charity. Maternal care is so str ong that motherhood is the single greatest source of strength for the maintenance of the ethi cal ideal. 2 An additional correlation between maternal care and charity is to be found in the connection that Aquinas draws between higher order love and charity. Charity is the l ove of God which humans receive in a finite way, and thus is a created thing in humans. He construes the love God has for human beings as a perfect love. Charity is a less per fect version of this love. A similar relation could be seen in Noddings claims about care. T he intense love a mother has for her child could be considered a higher order or more perfe ct kind of caring. Care can also consist in lesser forms of the maternal bond of c are. Her ethic is based on the caring relationship, primarily between two human beings, assoc iated with things like caring and tender moments and she states that a person does not nee d to love in order to care. 3 A person can care for many people and things with intensity much less than this powerful maternal care. This parallels Aquinass re ndition of the relationship between Gods love and the lower order human love found in charity. An individual cannot have the same level of intensity in the love he has for others, as he ha s for God. However, the love of God is to be reflected in the love of others. Likewise, the care between a mother and child is to be reflected in the care for others. 1 Williams, Thomas Aquinas Disputed Questions on Virtues 111. 2 Noddings, Caring, a feminine approach to ethics and moral edu cation, 130. 3 Ibid., 112.
80 The conception of the virtue of care in CVE theory starts with the highest order human care, found in the bond between a mother and her child, and it then moves to a lower order of care. As an individual develops the virtue of care, her goal is to str ive to develop the higher level of maternal care in other relations and in all the moral actions she takes. What is important and different about this notion of care is that it is unive rsal. Everyone has a mother. This is a simple idea and it has some interesting offs hoots worth exploring. The most important one is to build on Aristotles thoughts regarding the importance of early childhood development. In this early development lies the opportunity to give the virtue of care to a person. Aquinas has the notion within his virtue ethics theory that God infuses charity into a person. A mother and the caregive rs in a childs life have the opportunity to instill the virtue of care into an individual fr om the earliest moments of his life. As Noddings points out, the bond of care not only goes from the mother to the child, but also goes from the child to the mother based on the remembrance of the early care a person receives in life. The second relation between care and charity is found in the primacy of both sentiments. Charity is something which humans are given and in that sense it becom es a part of their nature. 1 Charity is the virtue of the will. It is the will which moves reason to seek the good and thus precedes reason. Reason presents something it perceives a s good to the will, and the will moves the body to obtain what is presented to it by reason. The will is moved by charity to seek the good and the will then moves reason, so that i n this sense charity is primary. Care also plays a primary role. The first actions of an infant 1 See Williams, Thomas Aquinas Disputed Questions on Virtues 109-111. The virtue of charity is something which is created in humans. There is obv iously a metaphysical and theological argument that some individuals receive charity and some do not. It is beyond the scope of this paper to address tha t issue. Since I am only drawing a parallel, for purposes of this discussion, it is not a relevant point.
81 come from his desires and appetites. Repetition of these initial actions can generate dispositions. Noddings argues that these initial emotions include a strong sens e of care. She emphasizes the importance of the emotion, by reference to Humes discus sion of the role emotions in general play in ethics. Hume argues that ethics is rooted in fe eling or emotion and the final sentence on matters of morality is that which renders m orality an active virtue. this sentence depends on some internal sense or feeling, whi ch nature made universal in the whole species, for what else can have an influence of this nature. 1 Care is an instinctive, universal human emotion, something humans have as a part of their animal nature. It is internal, but it is not caused by the subject. Aqui nas expands Aristotles naturalistic theory to include a God that infuses charit y into a human life. Care, in place of charity, can take this role, but is something a person has as part of their human nature. This makes CVE a self contained naturalistic theory. In a way, care is a better fit with Aristotles naturalistic theory, filling the need A quinas perceived for a grounding principle, but better maintaining the integrity of Aristotles na turalistic theory. As Noddings has pointed out, the notion of care, as an animal instinct, develops in a child before he has the capacity to reason. Care is a primeval human instinct. Car e moves the moral reason to seek the good, as Aquinas argues that charity does. In this c apacity, care is the virtue of the will and provides the volition for action. As an instinctive capacity, care can provide a strong foundational root for vir tue ethics. The naturalistic sense of caring can be easily extended to something w hich is considered a common human characteristic. It also is universal in its mat ernal form, since every human being at one point in his or her life was cared for by another. Furt her, 1 Hume, David, An Inquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, 275.
82 as a universal human characteristic, it would certainly seem plausible to ta ke as a premise the idea that every human being cares about something or someone. Through care, as part of a persons inherent nature, he will naturally consider the natures, ways of life, needs and desires 1 of others. This discussion leads to the final comparison between charity and care, which is in the area of human relations. Relational care builds on the foundation of both the maternal and naturalistic aspects of care. Care is not an abstract rational principle or a divinely inspire d love of neighbor. What makes care such a powerful foundational ethical principle is, as Noddings puts it, the fact that the caring regard for beings is not derived from a c oncept of respect for persons; rather, it furnishes the foundation for such views. 2 Every individual human beings existence depends on someone else caring about him or her. Without the caring relationship no one would exist. At the most basic level, physical ly, without some relationship between a man and a woman, followed by someone caring f or children, no one would exist. From the moment a person comes into existence, at conception, someone needs to care for him in order for him to survive. This starts with the mother carrying the child, through the gestation period up to birth. Someone needs to care for the individual through his upbringing, until the point he can survive on his own. The initial intimate relationship of co-existing between the mother and the f etus provides a physical and emotional bond which is the naturalistic grounding for Noddingss cla im that the love between a mother and child is fundamental in ethics. The individual has a memory of the caring provided by those who brought about her existence and helped 1 Noddings, Caring, a feminine approach to ethics and moral edu cation, 14. 2 Ibid., 120.
83 sustain her. This is the remembrance of the receipt of care, which may be cons trued as a sentiment or a cognitive memory. This sentiment or memory helps develop the portion of the virtue of care which underlies the relational caring for others. As discussed earlier, Noddings focuses primarily on the direct caring rela tionship. Her sentiment could be taken in a similar context as Aquinas, when he states that c harity does not recognize different degrees between the one who loves and the one who is loved, because it unites the two. 1 Care unites people in the caring relationship, as charity unites people through the loving relationship, as mediated through God These sentiments of Noddings, and Aquinass concepts of relational care, require furt her elaboration. There are ideas in Aquinass discussion of charity which can be of bene fit in expanding Noddingss conception of care. Aquinas extends the love of God in charity to others, so that a persons neighbor is loved only for the sake of God. 2 However, Aquinas does not limit this obligation to just others with which an individual has a direct relationship. Aquinas quotes Augustines concerns that a person should care most for those who are nearest to you in a special way, however a person should not exclude those who are not connected to us by any particular tie, as, for example, those living in India and Ethiopia. 3 Jean Porter provides some important insight into this aspect of Aquinass structure for c harity. Contrary to the general conception of Christian love Thomas denies that charity as neighbor love requires each of us to love all our neighbors equally. 4 Porter draws on an 1 Williams, Thomas Aquinas Disputed Questions on Virtues 164. 2 Ibid., 131. 3 Ibid., 156.
84 analysis of Aquinass more indepth discussion of charity in the Summa Theologiae She concludes that he has an explicit hierarchal order to the love found in charity. Of cour se God is to be loved above all else. However, Aquinas also argues that each person should love himself or herself more than his or her neighbor. 1 The notions of charity are based on the Christian bible and a key component of this discussion comes from that source. After the commandment to first love God, comes the second commandment that you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments the whole law is based. 2 The law referred to here is the Christian moral law. Aquinas goes on to discuss how some neighbors are to be loved more than others. He even develops an extensive list for the order of loving different groups of people. Aquinas holds the precept that it is acceptable to love in different degrees those in different circumstances. 3 This broadened version of charity applies to everyone, so that no one is excluded from charity, or from the scope of the perpetual willingness to serve the neighbor that charity include s. 4 The hierarchal aspect of charity is something which needs to be added to Noddingss n arrow notion of relational care. As previously discussed, this is an observation which Halw ani made and an area of Aquinass work from which CVE could greatly benefit. Noddingss conception of care needs to be extended. 4 Porter, De Ordine Caritatis: Charity, Friendship, and Justice in Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologiae," 199. 1 Ibid., 199. 2 Mathew, 22, 37-39. The New American Bible, St. Joseph Edition 32. 3 See discussion. Porter, De Ordine Caritatis: Char ity, Friendship, and Justice in Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologiae," 205. 4 Porter, De Ordine Caritatis: Charity, Friendship, and Justice in Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologiae," 207.
85 In arguing for a broader notion of care, Halwani addresses the problem wi th Noddingss notion of care. She uses the example of two siblings or friends who care for each other, even though they are physically separate from each other and have no direc t contact over time. Halwani argues that such relationships are caring and th us believes that this component must be added to Noddingss care. Halwani believes that i t would seem that Noddingss account is at best incomplete because she does not think these indirect relationships are caring. 1 Halwani also points out that, while Noddings argues that the relationship is primary, she argues that it difficult to see how huma n relationships can be ontologically basic when they conceptually require human beings to exist in the first place in order for people to form the relationships. 2 To fulfill the role of charity, the virtue of care must be expanded to allow for the general area of care for other people with whom the agent is not in direct contact To serve as a foundational principle of a virtue ethics theory, is also necessar y that a person care about other living things, such as animal life, plant life, and even inanimat e objects, as well as ideas, thoughts, and activities. All of these are a part of the fiel d of concern in ethics. As a core virtue, care can account for any valid area of ethics Noddingss concept of direct relational care could easily be accommodated within Aquinass hierarchy. Caring for those with whom a person has direct relations can be a higher level of care. However, it does not preclude care of others. An individual must care for himself and his own existence. A person first learns about care through the care h e receives from others for his survival. An individuals ability to care fir st requires some 1 Halwani, Care Ethics and Virtue Ethics, 164. 2 Ibid., 169.
86 measure of self-knowledge. It is important for a person to care for himself The Christian notion of love of self, equal to love of neighbor, can be easily applied t o the virtue of care. In summary, the parallels between care and charity represent a very rich ar ea to explore. Noddings centers her notion of the good around caring, so that natural carin g some degree of which each of us has been dependent upon for our continued existence is the natural state that we inevitably identify as good. 1 I believe this sentiment encompasses instinctive, maternal and relational caring. Charity als o has parallels this idea with its focus on the good of God. In charity an individual cares about others for t he sake of God. In some sense, the care for others is initiated in the maternal care for the individual and his own existence. It also comes from the memory of the care he r eceived from others, which was necessary for him to exist. 1 Noddings, Caring, a feminine approach to ethics and moral edu cation, 49.
87 Chapter 6: Framework for Care-Based Virtue Ethics I set out in this thesis to discuss the structure and foundation of a care-based virtue ethics theory. The initial structure is found in the concepts of Aristotle s virtue ethics theory with its focus on action and the development of the dispositions. The next step is to rework Aquinass theory, utilizing much of his expanded Aristotelian struc ture, but using the virtue of care in place of charity. Using care in the foundational pl ace of charity allows for use of many of Aquinass theological ideas, but within a more naturalistic approach. This revised approach includes analysis of aspects of his accounts of natural law, happiness, prudence and action. This is a significant undertaking. As Williams indicates in the introduction to the DQV Aquinass ethics is so thoroughly systematic that one cannot adequately understand any of these accounts wit hout drawing heavily on all the others. 1 I will say a few words about how some of these areas might be addressed in future work. Care and the Virtues Substituting care for charity means that care is part of all the virtues. Thi s opens an avenue of investigation which addresses the question of what it means for car e to be the form, root and moving cause of all the moral virtues. In this sense, the virtues are considered as forms of care. Courage is considered a form of caring for exi stence and 1 Williams, Thomas Aquinas Disputed Questions on Virtues x.
88 overcoming the fear of death or injury. If a person does not care about her existe nce, she will not fear death and thus have no need of courage. Courage might include balancing care for oneself with care for others who need help or protection. Temperance woul d be considered a form of caring about controlling bodily desires. If a person does not c are about moderating bodily pleasures, there would be no need to fight temptation and thus no need for temperance. Temperance could be born out of caring about health or others needs. Moderating consumption might mean not consuming more than a persons share of goods out of concern for the needs of others. In honesty there might be caring about the consequences of truth. However, this also opens the possibility of a concern for a principle, some kind of caring for the principle of truth. A person might be honest because he cares about what kind of person he is, his reputation or the intrinsic value in truth. Justice is a rich area to explore. The root of justice might be found in how a person cares about others and their fair treatment. The notion of concern for other individuals rights or ones own obligations could be a form of caring. Caring about the well being of another person will provide both the motivation and the form for being kind to him. This might be first thought of in relation to what a person finds of value and the desires she has for things of value. Before a person desi res something, it must have some significance to her. She must care about it. It is thr ough caring, in the deeply human sense that has been discussed herein, that a person turns his attention and desire to an object or other being. Care is the emotion or the feeling w hich directs the attentive consciousness in matters of morality. This is a very brie f summary of a very rich area of future exploration.
89 The Good Awareness of and caring about ones own existence happens early in life. This is followed by the realization that a person has a choice in what happens with her lif e. An individual who never develops a proper sense of caring for her own life will strugg le to develop an ethical foundation. She must also realize that she needs others, in order for her to exist. These are others who cared for her in the beginning of her life and for w hom she must care in return. The realization of the need for others initiates prudence. Prudence focuses on using reason to help maintain a persons existence, which al so involves other people. This is consistent with Aquinass theory as well. A moral person is motivated by three broad types of goods. The first two types of goods are to maintain oursel ves in existence and to reproduce ourselves and to care for our offspring. 1 These are considered goods that humans share to some degree with animals. The third type of goods belongs to people alone this category subsumes the other two without supersedi ng them. 2 The third type of goods is for a person to exercise the powers of rational thought and (consequently) to live in society and to know God. 3 It would seem that it would be a worthwhile effort to take this societal notion of Aquinass theory and reconstruct it based on the virtue of care. His structure and in-depth analysis of hum an behavior would greatly strengthen CVE theory. At the same time, replacing c harity with 1 Williams, Thomas Aquinas Disputed Questions on Virtues xiii. 2 Ibid., xiii. 3 Ibid., xiii.
90 the virtue of care would help give his theory more universal appeal, with a more naturalistic foundation. Because CVE theory is based on Aquinass description of placing care in the role of the virtue of charity, it is important to try to bring the good of Aquinas, which is God, back to the more naturalistic good of existence. The nature of charity is to love God for his own sake and that loving the other is based on the premise that God is in him, or so that God may be in him. 1 Aquinas connects individuals to each other and the good by reference to the common good that relates to one person or another qua part of the whole, so that the principal object of love is whatever the good principally resi des in which is people. 2 It is possible to consider a similar relationship with caring about others, existence and human flourishing. A person needs to care about her own existence and take prudent action to sustain it. In addition, she needs others to exist, so at a minimum she must care about other people out of a concern for her own existence. Without proper self-care, a person will not care properly for others. Aquinass states that inasmuch as it is necess ary for something to tend towards God, this inclination arises out of charity. 3 In like fashion, tending toward the good of flourishing existence is an inclination that arises out of care for existence. Noddings makes a strong argument that natural caring is som ething which each person has been dependent on in his life. Natural care is caring for continui ng 1 Williams, Thomas Aquinas Disputed Questions on Virtues 131. 2 Ibid., 131. 3 Ibid., 162.
91 existence and reproduction which humans share with animals. An individual has a natural concern for life and with prudence she can take caring action. This is a significant area to develop within CVE theory which I touched on already and am only briefly outlining here. It is important to place good ins ide of every human being by nature of their very existence. Caring about existence is conne cted to the good of existence. Every human has the ability to be good, simply by virtue of existin g as a human being. Everyone has the capacity to care at a higher level than just the basic caring for existence. Knowing that she exists, and that she has choices that she can make about that existence, are the first steps an individual takes toward reasoning. Thi s notion can be used for educational purposes. Every person has good inside of him or her, in the form of care. This natural care can be developed and pulled out, like natural musical or athletic ability. The skills of always caring and always making the best practical decision possible can be taught and learned through habituation in youth and continued education and experience. This leads back to the discussion of the concept of the virtuoso human. The Virtuoso Human The term virtuoso generally refers to an individual who excels at a fine art. It is a term usually associated with a musician. A virtuoso violinist excels at the technique of playing the violin. However, she is more than just technically competent. The virtuoso performer is engaged in an art form and creates music. The meter and the scal e are technical, each beat and each note standing in a specific relationship to the other. I t is important that the virtuoso violinist be competent in the technical aspects, which tak es time and practice. But there is something more in a great performer than si mply the
92 collection of notes played at the proper tempo. The virtuoso musician adds something to the music which is particularly human. When done properly the music somehow connects to, and touches something inside of the listener. It is also generall y thought that the virtuoso musician needs to have some inherent musical ability or something inside of her which is drawn out and developed. She has some measure of latent musical ability. When she reaches the peak of virtuoso ability, it seems that there is something draw n out of her that also connects to and touches the audience. Like the virtuoso performer born with some musical ability, the virtuoso human is born with a natural care. Howe ver, those born with natural care are not some select few. Everyone is born with a natural ability or capacity to care. Instinctive care is a natural part of every human being. In addition, care is given to a person in a very special way in the unique caring relationship between a mother and her child. Every person has some experience of care. It is grounded in both animal and human nature. It is a universal human capacity. A virtuoso human is an individual who has had the care drawn out of her and developed from a very young age. As she grows, she continues to develop the virtue of care. A virtuoso person can possess the proper virtue of care completely, in relation to the various stages in her life. Th e caring acts of a virtuoso person also touch something special in others. There is a connection between the virtuoso caregiver (caring-one) and the recipient of care (cared-for ). The primary subject of Noddingss book is this connection. If a person cares in the proper way, it w ill render virtuous activities pleasurable in themselves so that we can act more easily. 1 1 Williams, Thomas Aquinas Disputed Questions on Virtues 137. This is the description Aquinas gives to the working of charity and the other virtu es together. This provides a connection back to Aristotles conception of the workings of the virtu es, as bringing reason and feeling in harmony.
93 Noddings supplies some perspective on the requirements of a virtuoso human and provides grounding for the concept. Her thought is different from both Aristotles noti on of the virtuous person and the religious aspect that Aquinas adds to the theory. She stresses the importance of the requirement of attainability. In defining the caring human, she states that it is not necessary that I, a concrete moral agent, act ually attain my ideal surely, I shall fail repeatedlybut the ideal itself must be attainable in the actual world. It must be possible for a finite human being to attain it, and we should be able to describe the attainment. 1 A virtuoso human being is someone who not only has the virtue of care, but also has prudence. He excels at being a caring person and can use practical reas on to put the virtue of care into action. Care is an excellence which can be perfected in a very human sense as the foundational virtue of character. It may allow for some level of failure, which can be made up through the effort and future development. It allows for continuous growth, development and improvement of the morality of the individual. Excellence in caring is a human perfection at various points in life, never re aching a specific fixed point. In taking on the role of charity, care like charity is f ound not in the reason but in the will. 2 Care and prudence work together so that care provides the goodness in a virtue and prudence is what a person uses to take action, in conjunction with the care in the other virtues. A prudent individual is a person who can deliberat e finely about things that are good and beneficial for himself about what sorts of things promote living well in general (1140a25-29). The development of the other virtues 1 Noddings, Caring, a feminine approach to ethics and moral edu cation, 109. 2 Williams, Thomas Aquinas Disputed Questions on Virtues 159.
94 comes from the care in the individual actions a person takes. Care is the root of the virtues of character. The virtue of care is the moving cause of prudence in the applica tion of the other virtues. The role of prudence is also critical, because as Aris totles states it, we cannot be fully good without prudence, or prudent without virtue of character (1144b30-35). Practical Wisdom An individual can put care into their actions very early in life. As they mature, they begin to apply prudence as well. Repeated caring actions in various aspects of life begin to form the dispositions. The proper care in repeated temperate action begins t o form the disposition which will become temperance. The same is true with honesty or courage. Learning and developing these actions comes from the care of others. A virtuoso human is one who puts the excellence in care into every action. This is done with the virtue of prudence. Prudence ( Phronesis ) is a central part of virtue ethics theories. It is the primary virtue in Aristotles theory. The human good is found i n the human function which is activity of the soul in accord with reason or requiring reason (1098a8-9). Prudence is that part of reason which has to do with taking action in life. In his discussion of wisdom in Book VI of the NE Aristotle lays out the argument for the importance of prudence. It includes an understanding of all the parts of the sit uation. The object of prudence is not theoretical knowledge, but action. This characteriza tion has some parallels to the approach Noddings takes to care. There appears to be a strong connection between care and prudence in her work.
95 Noddings expresses concerns with relying on theoretical knowledge in deali ng with ethical issues. In discussing her ethical ideal, she clearly points out tha t it is a practical notion, not a theoretical exercise. In dealing with ethical issue s, a person must resist the temptation to soar into clouds of abstraction where everything but gross contradiction can be set right. 1 Noddingss ethical ideal is not made up of artificial solutions contrived in a parallel world of abstraction. 2 If an ethical theory is going to be universally attainable, it must be useful to any individual. Prudence is the virt ue which combines reason and charity in Aquinass theory. This same relationship is found between care and prudence. However, it is possible that care would connect more directly with prudence than charity does. Charity must go to God to be grounded. God is an abstract notion. Care is a naturalistic notion. Noddings provides some insightful comments on this topic, as it relates to ethical action. Noddings refers to the biblical story of Abraham and his son Isaac. Abraham is told by God to offer his son as a sacrifice to God. She points to the explanation of this act by Kierkegaard, who describes Abrahams action as justified by his connection to God, the absolute. 3 Abraham is asked by God to kill in the name of this same God who says thou shalt not kill. Abraham was planning to commit this forbidden action becaus e he believed he heard the voice of God. Abraham was acting based on the abstract, universal idea of God, the absolute. He chose this path, rather than following a pr actical principle, from the same God. This leads to a paradox in his action. Out of a duty to 1 Noddings, Caring, a feminine approach to ethics and moral edu cation, 109. 2 Ibid., 109. 3 Ibid., 43.
96 God, we may be required to do to our neighbor what is ethically forbidden. 1 God is the first principle in Aquinass theory. What appears as a direct command from God must be measured through prudence, which focuses on earthly human goods. Care in place of charity brings a more naturalistic approach to this problem. As Noddings explains it, this is a place where intuition goes wrong and Abraham has gone into the clouds of abstraction. According to Noddings a mother responds to her child, the human cry, not the abstract voice. This seems more consistent with the functioning of prudence. As Aristotle describes it, prudence is a virtue concerned with the human goods. The virtue of care moves the will toward human goods, the most important of which is human life, which has priority over the abstract. The virtue of care is prim ary in CVE theory. Moral action starts with caring about human existence, both an individuals existence and the existence of others in the caring relationship. Prudence is then e ngaged by care. Aristotles intellectual reason is the human connection to the world of a bstract thought and ideas. Aquinass notion of charity connects a person to the abstract of God. Care connects a person to her own concrete existence and the concrete existence of others. In this capacity care functions as a virtue more fundamental than prudenc e and more practical than charity. 1 Noddings, Caring, a feminine approach to ethics and moral edu cation, 43.
97 Chapter 7: Conclusion My thesis is intended to be a starting point for further work on the subject of placing care in a central role in virtue ethics. A fully developed virtue ethi cs theory based on care and structured like the theories of Aristotle ad Aquinas seems fea sible. There are many unanswered questions and ideas to continue to explore. The notion of care which I have developed herein has many similarities to charity. I n particular, I wanted to stress the strength of the notion, its naturalistic origin, the need t o care about ones own existence, and the care found in relations with others. One of the most important aspects of care-based virtue ethics theory is imparting the vir tue of care to each subsequent generation. Instilling care in children is not simply a matter of teaching and developi ng it as a virtue. From the very beginning of human life a person must be cared for and cared about. In pregnancy the mother must care about the child in order to bring it into the world. During pregnancy the mother and child share everything. Being care d for is the source of the special bond between a mother and a child, of which Noddings speaks about and which is at the core of care. Through childhood someone must care for a person, until he reaches a point where he can care for himself. Noddings captures in her discussion the remembrance of the early care a person receives in life and how important that is to his morality. As she developed her notions of relational care, it is the early care a child receives which establishes the basis for a person to care for others. T he effort to
98 raise a child is substantial. The acknowledgement and remembrance of this part of a persons life, and the care received from others, is a very powerful human sentiment It represents a tremendous opportunity to establish a proper ethical sentiment in childr en. The opportunity caregivers have to instill care is a powerful starting pla ce for an ethical theory. Imagine the loving care which can be imparted on a child during his development. A person can be given the virtue of care, which then can be developed by that individual into an appreciation for the care received. This instilled care can then be ext ended to others. Of equal importance is the caring appreciation for ones own worth. Consi der the opposite, a person who does not have appropriate care and is abused. Statistics arent necessary to show that a child who is abandoned, abused, neglected, or given no care other than cold callous delivery of sustenance, will very likely struggle to deve lop a proper morality. Similarly, an adult treated very poorly (who never gains a sense that his life has any worth and who never cares for his own life in a proper sense) may develop problems with his morality. An individual must care for himself and his own exist ence. A person must also learn to care for his neighbors, as if his very existence d epended on others, because it does. A persons existence is dependent on someone else existing before him, his parents and the others who cared for him. Once he comes into existence, he is dependent on others for his continued existence, which is based on the notion of relational care. He should act based on this sense of the virtue of care. Every moral decision and action should be taken in light of the value of his existence and the equal importance of others for the maintenance of his existence. The importance of others is not to be construed to
99 indicate that others should be considered as means to an individuals own end. The care for others must be taken in the context of an interrelated need to co-exist. Each persons life has an equal value based on the mutual need for others. However, it obviously starts with a person caring for his own existence. If an individual does not value his own life it is virtually impossible for him to find value in others lives. This is the enabling sentiment for CVE theory. There are many aspects of Aquinass work which need exploration. The discussion of caring for existence has some parallels to things found in the ideas of natural law. The notion of law tends to focus on the idea of justice and a connection to the laws of nature. A second area to explore would be to understand how care relates to the locus of natural laws within humans. Aspects of CVE theory could parallel Aquinass natural law theory. His work could be addressed from the perspective of a similarly construed natural caring theory. Placing care in the position of c harity would then require a discussion of s ynderesis which is the disposition containing the precepts of the natural law, which are the first principles of human acts. 1 It may be possible to argue that care is a part of synderesis, or that care contains the precepts of natural law, or that they can be derived from it. A proper review of Aquinass overall works in re lation to care would be a next step in this argument for the primacy of care. The main sentiment I want to capture in this analysis is the idea of grounding and unifying the virtues in respect to Aquinass comment that charity is the form, moving cause and root of the virtues. I have spoken at some length about ethical theories and what is special about the virtue ethics that Aristotle and Aquinas describe. M odern 1 Williams, Thomas Aquinas Disputed Questions on Virtues xii, (Ia2ae 94.I ad 2).
100 ethical theories such as Utilitarianism or Kantianism seem to place the focus of ethics on some type of measurement or rule based system. Noddingss work on care was done in part as a response to problems which come from these modern types of theories. The se two other types of theories can provide any answer so long as the math works, or there is some logical non-contradictory argument, or abstract rule or principle to su pport a course of action. Noddings argues that the modern focus on these types of theories gives e thics not only a mathematical appearance, but it also moves discussions beyond the sphere of actual human activity and the feeling that pervades such activity. 1 In a sense, these other two approaches to ethics seem to move the foundation of ethics away from people. Noddingss care ethics has its foundation in human caring and the memory of car ing and being cared for. 2 The CVE theory I am proposing can be built upon the three sentiments of maternal, instinctive and relational care. This is a very promising future ave nue for rich development. Care-based virtue ethics can be learned through habituation whic h, as Noddings puts it is just the repetition of feelings and events in ordinary life and the celebration of the ordinary, human-animal life. 3 1 Noddings, Caring, a feminine approach to ethics and moral edu cation, 1. 2 Ibid., 1. 3 Ibid., 124-125.
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