The Trolley Problem
the popular meme explained

Steer the trolley away, because saving more lives is not about happiness or well-being, it is simply the kind of thing a virtuous person would do.

This answer corresponds with the ethical paradigm of

Virtue Ethics according to Aristotle

Raphael's School of Athens, Plato and Aristotle Most contemporary ethical theories (and people more generally) look at either actions or their consequences when considering the moral value of an action. Virtue Ethics is an ethical theory that does not look at action as such, instead the consideration is on the character of the actor. The main source for Virtue Ethics remains the classic written 2500 years ago, Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. Unlike Plato before him, Aristotle was very much grounded in the actuality of Greek life and approached his subject matter (ethics in this case, but more philosophy more widely as well) through what he observed to be the case. That is why Raphael's famous fresco The School of Athens depicts the two philosophers pointing to the sky and earth respectively.

One of the observations Aristotle makes is that human beings aim not just to live, but to live well. 'Living well' in this context is quite an important difference from bare life, which has grave implications on our moral outlook at life. The main concern is precisely that which sets it apart from other ethical theories, namely that the abstract conceptions of 'what is good?' and 'what is just?' (i.e. Plato's considerations), have little value without a direct relation to what is happening in the city-state. Aristotle was, in other words, more interested in how one could become a good citizen and do good deeds instead of what the nature of 'the good itself' would be. And he believed that in order to foster good citizenship, one ought to foster good character in the city's population.

Virtue for Aristotle is all about finding the right balance between what is innate to us and what is reasonable. A virtue is a trait of character that one should aim to excel in, it is an ability to exhibit certain traits when they are needed, and to wisely choose from them. The main virtues for Aristotle were: justice, courage, temperance, magnificence, magnanimity, liberality, gentleness, prudence, wisdom. Wisdom is also one of the more important virtues, because it is through wisdom that one can choose when to be courageous - is it really courage to be a lone soldier and face an enemy squadron with nothing but a stick, or is that foolhardiness? "To possess a virtue is to be a certain sort of person with a certain complex mindset" (cf. Hursthouse & Pettigrove Virtue Ethics).

Virtue Ethics and Communication Theory

There are generally two ways to look at virtue ethics and communication. One way to look at it is that good character does not amount to much in our communication at all. What is conveyed through speech or another medium cannot tell us what kind of character someone is. Good character is observed through repetition. Communication is viewed as a means to attain an end. In such circumstances, virtue ethics cannot deal with the contemporary ideological framework of profit driven corporations - what matters is not the character, but the direct output that can be linked to profit/loss. The same reasoning could be applied to internet, where a character cannot be established from a comment or a blog. All of this is to say that virtue ethics is viewed as inconsequential and therefore also irrelevant to communication theory.

Another way to view virtue ethics is to stipulate the strengths of disregarding consequences. Where corporations look at profit and loss, it is good to point out the importance of healthy relationships with business partners. The value of an employee certainly depends on their output; however, the measure of output is more than profit and loss. There is value in building rapport with clients and colleagues, there is value in acting justly in dispute resolution, there is value in temperance rather than rushing into sales at the cost of future business relations. Good character, in other words, is not only displayed in direct results, but in the value of the person to the corporation as a whole.

Notwithstanding, the wider use of internet leads to disappearance of character from communication too. Because the use of internet puts certain aspects of communication into jeopardy - such as our tone, close relationship, the underlying intent and familiarity with words, body language, etc. - the good character of the person is not as easily distinguishable. Virtue Ethics thus faces a similar shortcoming as Utilitarianism in communication theory: while communication has become more efficient, it is not necessarily more effective.

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