Chen Shui-bian, the President of Taiwan is a man of great character, being shaped by poverty since his childhood (Government Information Office, Republic of China, 2004). His parents were constrained to borrow money to put him through school, but he succeeded in hurdling all kinds of stumbling blocks along his way, culminating in his becoming the youngest lawyer of the country after obtaining the highest score in the bar examinations (Government Information Office, Republic of China, 2004).
Several key moments in his life show immeasurable deepness and strength of character, such as his well-known proclivity for challenging unfairness and exposing governmental blunders (Government Information Office, Republic of China, 2004). He also showed excellent morality in helping many people, all throughout his life, especially those whom he found to be in dire situations and needing much help and assistance (Government Information Office, Republic of China, 2004).
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Another laudable quality of the President is his personal motto, which states, “do what you are, and live up to what you do (Government Information Office, Republic of China, 2004). ” It shows his belief that a man’s character as a person is shaped by his actions and habit. This personal philosophy is in line with a famous ethical philosophy, as will be shown below.
In addition, the President showed his lack of bias and discrimination in his hiring practices, when he made it a policy to hire according to talent and ability, rather than discriminatory bases such as gender or ethnic origins (Government Information Office, Republic of China, 2004). Finally, the President showed his humanitarian side in his order to pay more attention to providing welfare to “farmers, fishermen, workers, women, the elderly, and the disadvantaged, whose welfare had long been overlooked (Government Information Office, Republic of China, 2004). His administration had been pushed into providing institutional and funding measures designed to provide legal assistance and protection to these class of workers (Government Information Office, Republic of China, 2004). The life and works of the President finds support in the ethical and philosophical writings of Aristotle. Aristotle, in his work entitled Nicomachean Ethics, expounded on the notion called virtue. According to him, virtue is that which determines the character or nature of anything, such as a person (Ross, 1970).
To illustrate, virtue determines what makes a knife a good knife, and what makes a man a good person (Ross, 1970). For Aristotle, there are two kinds of virtue, namely natural virtue and moral virtue (Kilcullen, 1996). For him, the former relates to characteristics that humans possess from birth, such as a particular temperament (Kilcullen, 1996). On the other hand, the latter kind of virtue refers to the act of submitting one’s acts to reason (Kilcullen, 1996). The latter kind of virtue involves the concept of habit, which is an essential part of Aristotle’s ethical philosophy (Kilcullen, 1996).
For the ancient philosopher moral virtue is developed through habituation, whereby the exercise of reason results in a specific course of action (Kilcullen, 1996). Based on Aristotle’s ethical principles, it would be apparent that the President developed the habit of engaging in humanitarian works, speaking for the less privileged, removing biases, and moving for changes that would benefit many citizens. Therefore, by constantly engaging in these laudable works, the President had developed great virtues that find support in ethical theories.