How do we determine what counts as virtuous behavior? Describe and evaluate some of the answers that virtue theorists make to that question.
What is considered virtuous varies from culture to culture, and the term itself defies an ordinary or uniform definition. Personally, I consider people and actions who serve and improve the human condition as virtuous. There are endless ways in which to do this, and therefore, any number of virtues for us to embrace and model.
I would define "virtuous" to be that which builds up rather than tears down; that heals instead of hurts; that creates hope instead of despair; that relieves suffering instead of inflicting pain; and that nurtures instead of destroys. In short, virtue exists when human beings use their hearts and minds to bring love and compassion into the human family. I believe it was John F. Kennedy who said, "God's work must truly be our own." A better definition of virtue I cannot imagine.
Hummm. Whoopi Goldberg once said, "If it feels good, do it." However much I disagree with that statement for morality and for good health, it would fall under the "human flourishing" part of your definition. With it would be the rampant flourishing of venerial disease and pleasure seeking that some would say caused the fall of Sodom, Gomorrah, and Pompeii. I'm not so sure I would whole-heartedly support that definition at all. It leaves much to be desired...no pun intended.
The key to your question, I think, is the words "we decide." As a Christian, I believe that standard is set by God alone. What He says is virtuous is, indeed virtuous. What I decide--or what I choose to call good or moral behavior--just doesn't matter as much as the biblical standard by which I strive to live.
Absolutely agree with poster 4. We have a certain egocentricity that virtue is defined by our own particular culture and paradigm. However, as some philosophy schools identify there are certain virtues that all humanity should share. What about identifying those things that might be applicable to humankind?
I would also add that virtuous behavior would be defined differently in different cultures. Certainly what we might view as virtuous would differ than what other cultures would consider. Drmonica makes an interesting point also.
Interesting question. If one takes your parameters literally, that "anything that promotes human flourishing" can be described as a virtue, then pornography could conceivably meet the criterion.
Pornography is used by many couples to enhance the sexual experience, which in many cases leads to procreation. Increasing the human race via reproduction is certainly "flourishing." Could pornography then be considered virtuous?
Well, in my dictionary, virtue is defined as "the quality or practice of moral excellence or righteousness." The problem you are going to get with this of course is how on earth do we practically agree on what actions constitute moral excellence or not? Whilst we can all agree that virtuous behaviour is a good idea, the next stage, trying to outline or ring fence some kind of loose definition, becomes much more problematic.
If one was to read the book "To Kill a Mockingbird" one sees the personal code of behavior that Atticus Finch lived by, or in "The Separate Peace" when the student broke the school swimming record and considered it no big deal and he didn't want his friend to tell anyone; these are important codes of behavior that when people read them, they can realize that they must develop their own sense of personal codes and honor.