1. What is virtue ethics? Explain its significance in public life.
सदाचार नैतिकता क्या है? सार्वजनिक जीवन में इसके महत्व को समझाएं।
Virtue ethics is a broad term for theories that emphasize the role of character and virtue in moral philosophy rather than either doing one’s duty or acting in order to bring about good consequences. These traits derive from natural internal tendencies, however, once established, they become stable.
Significance of virtue ethics in public life:
- Longevity or Constancy: Most virtue ethics theories take their inspiration from Aristotle who declared that a virtuous person is someone who has ideal character traits throughout. For example, a virtuous person is someone who is kind across many situations over a lifetime because that is his/her character and not because he/she wants to maximize utility or gain favours or simply do his/her duty.
- Independent of existence of set laws: It helps an individual in assessing and maintaining one’s character. It invariably makes a person contribute to the society without the requirement of laws and punishments. Following virtue ethics enables a person to develop and follow virtues like honesty, integrity, transparency etc. and live and be righteous.
- Modesty: leads the individual to perform his/her function with utmost humbleness and simplicity, especially for civil servants, preventing them from asserting haughtiness.
- Temperance: as quality of self-refraining is practiced resulting in prevention of unnecessary conflicts and clashes in general.
- Inherent nature: They make us better human beings as our motivation to do something good stems from inside and are not based on the result of doing that action. For instance, if a person finds out an immoral act of his/her organisation then he/she will be not in any dilemma of actual welfare vs. loyalty to his/her organisation in pursuit of his/her growth in the company. The person will take the required action to disclose the immoral act directed as a virtue of honesty.
- Inculcation of traits: Virtue ethics consider many feminine traits, such as caring and nurturing, as equally important for the wholesome growth of an individual.
Virtue Ethics in Indian Philosophy:
From early protagonists like Lord Buddha and Chanakya to modern thinkers of India like Swami Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi etc, Virtue Ethics has always been an inherent morally responsible way of living propagated by various leaders and thinkers of this country, adopted and spread in different ways.
Mahatma Gandhi and his stand for ethics in Indian Freedom Struggle: Gandhi believed that as human beings, men can never reach the perfection of divine virtues. Still, they should strive with all their strength to follow the virtues of truth, love, nonviolence, tolerance, fearlessness, charity and service to mankind. Men have to uphold the right, regardless of the personal consequences they may face. He urged Satyagrahis to adapt to these virtues. He regarded that Indian struggle for freedom stands for truth and represents a just struggle for national and individual autonomy.
Selfless service to mankind: He believed that all humans are equal and there are no differences amongst us. He stood for the unity of life and humans, which was evident in his selfless works for untouchables (calling them Harijans).
Though virtue ethics comes with its own set of objections like self-centredness, failure of practicality and lack of lawfully guided principles, the constant self-awareness, self-development and knowledge building that a person inculcates as a result of virtue ethics cannot be overlooked. Emotional intelligence along with practicality where required will make a wholesome combination for an individual’s growth and help her/him contribute essentially to the society.