Critical exposition of Halwani's account of adultery and fidelity using Virtue ethics

There exist various views on whether adultery and fidelity are good or bad. Philosophers such as deontologist and others gave their opinion based on whether adultery is good or bad. The Virtue ethics is considered as the study of ethics and is based on a belief that one’s set of morals or virtue for determining the morality of an individual. For example, a deontologist such as Kant does not consider the good or bad consequences for any given instances of cheating. Their decisions are based on duties, rights or the principles that are not based on result or the consequences. However, Halwani’s decides to take the direction of the virtue ethics to respond to the issue of adultery in the society. The paper will provide a critical exposition of Halwani’s account of adultery and fidelity using Virtue ethics.

Most philosophers have turned their attention to the aspect of adultery by giving their views in relation to Kantian ethics. According to Kantian ethics, the good or bad of an action does not depend on their consequences but rather on whether they fulfill the duty. It gives room for some actions to be considered bad or good since it allows the exception to the overall wrongness of adultery. Therefore, their idea allows the possibility for an individual to commit adultery. For instance, a deontologist does not consider the good or bad consequences since an individual should not break promises and violates the duty of fidelity. However, Halwani as a philosopher decides to go the direction of virtue ethics to contribute on the issue of adultery. He mentions how other philosophers are using Kant theory to create an argument by either supporting or contradicting it. There exist various modes on the development of moral dispute (Annas 200).

Halwani decides to go the direction of virtue ethics because of various reasons. The Virtue ethics allows an individual to look at the consequences of the action which is contrary to the deontological ethics which majors mainly on the action. It is also flexible since it is not based on the absolute regulations that cannot be broken. Moreover, it does not break down the actions of single events because it takes into account the narrative or history of an individual’s life. According to Halwani, Virtue ethics maintains the theory that theory of moral behavior has objectives as part of developing a good life. It majors on the qualities of a person commonly known as the virtues that make him or her good person or rather that contributes to leading a good life. Therefore, contrary to the deontology, virtue ethicist doesn’t give formulas to regulations for determining the qualities like kindness, trustworthiness, and honesty.

 Fidelity as the third ethical principle is concerned with the aspect of building trusting relationships between two people or parties. It is also known as the action of being faithful based on truthfulness, loyalty, respect and promise keeping. The principle is applied to the interpersonal relationship in addition to the professional lives. According to the virtue ethics, it a virtue that demonstrates the aspect of being faithful to the other person. It able to brand the personality of an individual based on the moral principle known in the society. Moreover, virtue ethics states that a good person is someone who has good character. It is a person who has the right quality described by moral concepts. For example, it involves having virtues such as honesty, trustworthiness and also other good traits as shown through the described moral concept. It is not the ability for an individual to do what he or she thinks is right.

The ideal virtuous individual is not an unrealistic technique, an individual with unreasonable idealism. An ideal virtuous individual is a person who has a practical wisdom and also reasonable. He or she is not dogmatic or driven by ideology but rather is someone who understands how to integrate the best notions of the best thinkers and respond in a good manner, leading by examples and not through edict. Moreover, a virtuous individual shows authenticity and moral authority. According to Halwani, an ideal virtuous individual has the right traits, motives and also commitments in regards to what they do.  Therefore, a virtuous person should be an agent of good behavior in their relationship. He or she should relate to the other party while guided by the moral principle such as faithfulness.

The debate of good and bad is clouded by various notions and philosophies. Richard Taylor seeks for more meaningful conceptions by re-examining and rejecting the entire rationalistic tradition that clouds the philosophical ethics. Under Taylor’s case, the Kantian model it is permissible for an individual to commit adultery. Based on Taylors’ case, Kantian would respond that there must be consequences for an action to be deemed as bad or good. It is important to consider the motive because a person can commit adultery if they are pushed by circumstances especially when the other party mistreats her or him. Thus, an action will be considered good if it makes a person happy or bad when it makes a person unhappy.

Halwani as a philosopher would reject Utilitarian account based on various grounds. The Utilitarian base their ethical judgment on the result or perhaps the consequences which are commonly known as the consequentialists. The utilitarianism is a kind of consequentialism that majors on the utility as the consequence of making choice. According to utilitarianism, anything that makes a person happy is considered to be good while anything that makes a person unhappy or sad is considered bad.

However, Halwani tends to oppose the fact that not everything that makes an individual happy cannot be said to be good or anything that makes someone sad to be considered bad. It is said that this decision is not ethical.  Utilitarianism allows an individual to get hurt so long as the other person gets the benefit and is happy. According to Halwani, the virtue ethics allows an individual to have moral principles and treat other people in a good manner. Therefore, anything that discredits a good relationship between people in the society cannot be considered as good as supported by Utilitarianism. For example, a virtuous person should be an agent of good behavior in their relationship. He or she should relate to the other party while guided by the moral principle such as faithfulness. A good life should have people who are virtuous in order to promote that good relationship between one another for the betterment of the community and a service to all.

Love and sex have brought a lot of discussions. Halwani argues that people love for a reason which makes it possible to have the causes of love. On the other hand, he describes the state whereby having sex does not make their operations of the two individuals. Therefore, based on these arguments Halwani does not think that there is a connection between love and sex. This explanation is based on the reasons for the entire act. However, the connection between love and sex is related to the wrongness of adultery because of the fact that having sex and love for the wrong reasons (De Lazari‐Radek, Katarzyna, and Peter Singer 46).

Work cited

Annas, Julia. “Virtue ethics.” The Oxford handbook of ethical theory. Oxford University Press, 2009.

De Lazari‐Radek, Katarzyna, and Peter Singer. “Secrecy in consequentialism: A defence of esoteric morality.” Ratio 23.1 (2010): 34-58.

Raja Halwani, “Virtue Ethics and Adultery”, in Disputed Moral Issues: A

reader. pp. 113-119.

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