A form of ethical theory that makes the concept of virtue and virtuous action its primary or fundamental concepts. While most prevailing ethical theories make either the principle of the good
or the principle of the right
fundamental, virtue ethics gives these principles only a derivative status. In virtue ethics, then, the emphasis is more on one’s character, the states of character from which actions flow, and actions that are in accordance with these states of character, rather than on any foundational principles from which practical judgments can be deduced. Rather than deducing what it is good to do, an agent must be practiced in the performance of virtuous action in order to be able to judge right and wrong, good and bad. In this way, the order of moral knowledge is reversed in virtue ethics, insofar as we must first do what is good in order to be able to recognize what is good. For this reason, virtue ethics often is accused of relying on circular reasoning. Recently, however, there has been a resurgence of interest in virtue ethics, in both theological and philosophical ethics.