State Virtue is not the Argument, but rather what is the mean?

Written by Holly Anderson on August 26th, 2009

Aristotle defined virtuous living as the means that provides humanity with the end, that is happiness.  If happiness is the goal of the public life, then it is through the science of politics that Aristotle argued that we gain this end of all ends.  Such virtues Aristotle described as having a means, that is that each virtue has a right way and a right amount which would produce a virtuous action in the individual, and such would cause a magnification in the happiness of the soul.

When questioning whether the state should impose moral regulations on the individuals in society, there must be some agreement on which laws should exist, otherwise society would disintigrate into chaos and the existance of virtue would be of no worth at all, since the society within which people recieve honor which is a good end of virtue would be abolished.  The argument it seems then does not have to do with whether a society can teach moral responsibility to it’s citizens, but rather with how much and to what degree.  As Aristotle stated, it is only by reaching the mean virtue taking action at the right time, in the right way, and the right amount that leads to the end result: happiness. 

As for how much and to what degree should be taken in instruction of moral behavior, it is a notable fact in psychology that individuals model the behaviors of others whom they seek to be more like.  The reason that they seek to be similar has to do with public honor, or a realization that their actions cause virtuousness which lead the end result of happiness.  Thus it is through example that virtue is taught and moral responsibility is realized in a person’s development.  Instruction of virtues increases intellectual virtuousness, but it is only through a person’s realization that virtue is it’s own reward in happiness that will cause a person to imitate state leaders that have elements of good character. 

-Holly Anderson


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