Right conduct is any activity that promotes and sustains virtue—in oneself, in others, and in society as a whole.
Since, for Plato, virtue is good in itself and also brings happiness to the virtuous person, his theory of moral obligation is teleological.
Aristotle’s General Theory of Virtue Main Theses
The soul is the form and principle of organization of the body—not a separate entity.
There are 3 basic functions of the soul—vegetative (nutrition, growth, reproduction), appetitive (seeing, hearing, feeling, etc.), and rational (thinking, reasoning)
Reason has 2 functions: theoretical (gaining knowledge) and practical (guiding conduct)
The virtue of the theoretical function of reason is theoretical wisdom; the virtue of the practical function of reason is practical wisdom. Collectively, they are the intellectual virtues.
Practical wisdom consists of directing the nonrational part of the soul well.
Moral virtues are virtues of the nonrational part of the soul.
Moral virtues represent habits, traits, or dispositions of character (in contrast to intellectual virtues, which represent capacities of reason).
Moral virtuesare acquired by practice—i.e., by performing virtuous acts over and over until they become habitual behavior.
The moral virtues include pride, courage, temperance, justice, truthfulness, liberality, friendliness, and others.
A virtuous action is an action that occupies the mean between two extremes—one an excess and the other a deficiency.
For example, a courageousaction is the mean between the extreme of recklessness (excess) and cowardice (deficiency).
The mean is often relative, depending on the capacities and the circumstances of the person taking the action.
To determine where the mean is in a particular situation, one must first consider all relevant facts about the situation. The virtuous person then simply “sees” where the mean is. (This is just one interpretation of Aristotle’s views.)
Although there are some general rules that apply to locating the mean, there are no rules that can tell us precisely where the mean is in every situation. (This is just one interpretation of Aristotle’s views)
Aristotle’s Views on Goodness
All things aim at their own good.
The good for human beings is happiness.
Happiness is an activity of the soul in accordance with virtue.