Virtue Ethics, is friendship a virtue?

Me and Lee...

This is a photo of me and Lee (I’m the one in green, with the glasses) — my husband took this photo of us the last night of our adventure in New Orleans in March 2014.

Here, we’re sitting on the sidewalk in front of our rental place in the Marigny area of New Orleans… I learned a lot on that sidewalk during that week… like, how to say “New Orleans” (not ‘nawlins’), how to make gumbo, what a “coon-ass” is (what Cajun folks often call themselves, I’m not going there) — and lots of other things.

Hubby and I made a lot of friends that week.  These are people we connected with, laughed, cried, and lots and lots of talking :).

But — the question is — is ‘friendship’ ACTUALLY a virtue?  It could be a word that actually encompases a variety of other characteristics, many of which are virtues — but, friendship may not be a virtue in and of itself…

There are lots of good things that aren’t virtues — love is one of them.  Love is good, it has a function within a family and an impact on society – -but, it isn’t really a virtue like the others — because it depends on another person’s action.  I think friendship is similar.

The core of being a virtuous person is using the mean between extremes to guide behavior.  So — you should individually be honest.  Honesty is the mean between being a liar and lacking tact (being too blunt).  It’s something you can individually choose to do whether or not someone else is acting in the same way.  The same goes for courage — you can be courageous even if everyone else is doing something else — or even when you’re by yourself.

Friendship is meaningless without another person.  I suppose you can ‘like’ yourself, but you really aren’t friends with yourself.  If you think about the basic description of friendship, it’s a beneficial relationship between at least two human beings — notice, you can’t be friendly by yourself.

Further, what are the extremes between which friendship is the mean… I guess two people could be enemies on one side — and perhaps over-involved on the other — but, there too, we’re talking about the quality or quantity of interaction between persons — not what an individual can do on their own…

So — is friendship a virtue, perhaps, perhaps not — it is surely a good thing, like chocolate, kitties, and seeing the Northern Lights — but an actual virtue — maybe, maybe not…


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