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The Philosophical Journey: An Interactive Approach

The Importance of Role Models

Aristotle's idea of virtue ethics relies substantially on the effects role models have on people. Aristotle believes that we learn to be moral (virtuous) by modeling the behavior of moral people. Through continual modeling we become virtuous out of habit. Of course, people can learn both good and bad habits depending on the role models they have. Aristotle believed that it was the moral duty of every citizen to act as a good role model. This was especially true for people who were most likely to be in the public eye, since these people had so many eyes on them. Who are the role models in contemporary society? When asked, many celebrities (sports figures, actors, musicians) state that they don't want to be role models. Aristotle would argue that this is not a choice a person can make. Since these people are so prominent in our society they are role models and should take this responsibility seriously.

 Use these links to explore the issue of role models in contemporary society. Who are people, especially children, modeling their behavior and attitudes after? Is Aristotle correct in placing so much emphasis on the importance of role models in moral development? What, if anything should we do to foster good role models in the media and in other places in society?

Role Models on the Web

Online Ethics Center: The Role Model Argument and Faculty Diversity

World Wrestling Federation

Teen People Online