How Does Self Regulation Relate With Virtue Ethics?
“If prescribed rules are the only basis of morality, and nothing else, well then this becomes a game that can be played which allows the player who knows how best to manipulate the rules to become the winner at playing the game through exploiting the spaces between the rules.”
A central aspect of Virtue, as it relates to philosophy in particular, is the idea of self-regulation.
People’s behavior will follow from the rules they impose upon themselves, so the idea behind Virtue Ethics is that there exists some idea of what a human being aught to be and that they’ve internalized and formed a constitution based from early learning, grooming, with innate personality specific to them (genetics) and that this internalization thus forms the background from which they can then go one to do all the behaviors humans engage in from being a parent, to getting married, to running a business, to being a professional within the community.
One of the beauties, and dangers, of virtue ethics is that it does rely on the person’s own conceptions. So, that in the highest sense, for example, for Aristotle, one begins to think about what kind of person they want to be and this allows a person to organize and regulate their behavior from day-to-day, from activity-to-activity. It’s not some rules someone else has layed out for you, 10, 20, or 30 of them, that you follow and that’s all you have. And that’s an important difference because if you just have 20 rules, and this is where danger can come in with respect to things like business management we’ve seen recently in current events (Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos), people mistake these laid out rules to follow instead of asking, “What kind of person do I want to be?”, “ What sort of human being do I want to be?”, “What sort of man do I want to be?” Instead, they ask, “What rules are in place and how can I exploit them?”
This is a very different mind set. If morality is shaped, by just a set of prescribed rules and nothing else, well then that allows people to play them, and the winner is the one who can exploit the spaces between the rules. That’s a very different conception of what a moral person should be from asking oneself, “What is a virtuous person?” and “How do I behave that way in any of the circumstances I find myself in?”