Virtue Ethics is the study of morality that starts from the fact that it arises from internal features of the person, the virtues, as opposed to the position of deontology - morality arises from rules - and consequentialism - morality. It depends on the result of the act. The difference between these three approaches to morality lies more in the way in which moral dilemmas are approached than in the conclusions reached.
The ethics of virtue is a theory that goes back to Plato and, in a more articulated way, to Aristotle's virtue ethics, according to which an action is ethically correct if doing it were proper to a virtuous person. For example, if for utilitarianism have to help the needy because that increases the general welfare, and ethics must be done because it is our duty, to the ethics of virtues, we must help those in need because doing it would be charitable and benevolent.
Virtue Ethics seeks to explain the nature of a moral agent as a driving force for ethical behavior, rather than rules (deontology) or consequentialism, which is derived as correct or incorrect from the result of the act itself.
For example, a consequentialist would argue that lying is wrong because of the negative consequences produced by lying, although a consequentialist would allow certain foreseeable consequences to make lying acceptable in some cases. A deontologist would argue that lying is always bad, regardless of any potential "good" that might come from a lie. A supporter of the ethics of virtueHowever, it would focus less on lying on a particular occasion, instead considering what the decision to tell a lie or not tells us about one's character and moral conduct. As such, the morality of lying would be determined on a case-by-case basis, which would be based on factors such as personal gain, group benefit, and intentions (as to whether they are benevolent or malevolent).
Although concern for virtue appears in various philosophical traditions, in Western Philosophy, virtue is present in the work of Plato and Aristotle , and even today the key concepts of the tradition are derived from ancient Greek philosophy . These concepts include areté (excellence or virtue), phronesis (practical or moral wisdom), and eudaimonia (happiness).
In the West Virtue Ethics was the predominant focus of ethical thought in the ancient and medieval periods. The tradition of virtue ethics was forgotten during the modern period, when Aristotelianism fell out of favor. The theory of virtue returned to prominence in western philosophical thought in the 20th century , and today it is one of the three dominant approaches to normative theories (the other two being Kant's deontology and consequentialism or teleologism; where we might include the utilitarianism ).