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a comparison between the Virtue Ethics of Aristotle and Aquinas

Virtue ethics is currently one of the three approaches in normative ethics. A virtue is an outstanding feature of personality. In Aristotle’s virtue ethics, three fundamental questions are being answered. The first question is the identity of an individual. Who are we? To answer this question, Aristotle explains that we are social creatures.

This means that we live in groups and interact with one another. Now the second question arises that is how we should live, Aristotle responds by explaining that we should live a life of virtue in harmony with reason. The third question is, what is our end? Where are we heading? The answer is our end is joy and happiness. Aristotle’s ethics are very practical. He explains the fact that we, as social beings, live in communities, and if we want to have satisfaction, we must live reasonably and live a life of virtue. If this theory has a flaw, it is because Aristotle gives far more importance to reason than love.

Meanwhile, Aquinas asks four questions, starting with three basic questions Aristotle asked along with a fourth question that states how we can do what we should do. Aquinas answers the questions by explaining that we are socially responsible persons and have different natures. Love is what we should do, and virtue is the way of expressing our love. Where there is no virtue, there is no love. At last, our end is happiness starting from this world.

If we compare the ethics of Aristotle and Aquinas, Aristotle believes that reason is a virtue, while Aquinas considers love a virtue. Aristotle possibly underestimated the power of love and overestimated humans’ capability to be reasonable. Aristotle’s theory set the right base, but something was missing. Aquinas’ virtue theory filled that gap by bringing love into the equation (DeMarco n.p).

Works Cited

DeMarco, Don. “Aristotle And Aquinas: The Vital Difference.” Truth And Charity, 2012,



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