What is a virtue?

Aristotle’s project was to figure out what made an individual a good person.  He ended up saying that a person is virtuous if they can find the mean between two extremes…

So — how about courage — is it really a mean between extremes?  Sure, the opposite of courage is cowardice. If you lack courage,  you’re a coward.  You can see what needs to be done to help someone else, but you can’t actually make yourself do it.  I can see how being a coward is having a deficit of courage, but how about an excess of courage?

Can you really have too much courage?  I’m not sure how that might work — you are too willing to step in when you can to help someone out?  Perhaps the idea is that you lack the judgment needed to keep yourself out of situations you can’t handle?  So, in stead of being helpful you become another person to rescue.

We like to say courage is a virtue, but under Aristotle’s definitions, perhaps it isn’t?


1 Comment

Filed under Ethical Theory

One response to “What is a virtue?

  1. I think it’s possible to have too much courage. For example when you risk your own or other peoples life. In situations like that too much courage could lead to actions just for the devilment.

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