A Business Encyclopedia

Virtue Ethical Theories

Definition: The Virtue Ethical Theories hold that ethical value of an individual is determined by his character. The character refers to the virtues, inclinations and intentions that dispose of a person to be ready to act ethically.

Major Types of Virtue Ethical Theories

virtue ethical theories

  1. Individual Character Ethics: The individual character ethics hold that the identification and development of noble human traits help in determining both the instrumental and intrinsic value of human ethical interactions. These noble traits are courage, self-discipline, prudence, gratitude, wisdom, sincerity, understanding, benevolence, etc.
  2. Work Character Ethics: The identification and development of reflective, practitioner, noble traits at works such as creativity, honesty, loyalty, honor, trustworthiness, civility, dependability, shared work pride, empathy, etc. determine the intrinsic and instrumental ethical quality of work life.

    For example,
    Suppose a manager is facing global competition, huge productivity expectations and requires an effective teamwork, then his work character behavior should be such that he is considered as a role model for task accomplishment and his considerate relations with everyone at the workplace.
  3. Professional Character Ethics: The professional character ethics hold that self-regulation, loyalty, impartial judgment, altruism, truthfulness, public service determine the intrinsic and instrumental ethical quality of an individual associated with some communities.

    For example, if a business manager of a firm of doctors detects the double billing for the OT’s services, then his ethical professional behavior will enforce him to inform about this to the doctors-in-charge to get the problem solved. And in case the problem still persists, then he will act as a whistleblower and inform about this to the public outside and will not be silent until the problem is rectified. He does all this because of his loyalty towards the professional code of ethics.

Thus, the Virtue Ethical Theories are based on the notion that developing a sound character is what the life is all about. The character builds a substantive moral foundation for one’s actions.

It is believed that a person with the strong character has imbibed emotional, intellectual, moral and social virtues to achieve the self-discipline and do the right thing or want what is actually good for him. Whereas, the person with weak character finds himself doing all the wrong things, wanting what is truly harmful and making excuses for all his ill doings.

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