Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Virtue Ethics: An Ethical Development Program for High School Youth

Alternate Activity 3: Aristotle's Scramble

Part of Virtue Ethics

Activity time: 15 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Print Leader Resource 2. If the group is large, print several copies. Cut apart the list of virtues and the list of extremes. Put them in separate baskets. Keep the bottom of the Leader Resource intact so you have the answers. If you have a large group, print a few copies and prepare a few pairs of baskets.

Description of Activity

Youth explore Aristotle's view that all virtues are means between extremes, in a matching game.

Tell the group that the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle talked about several virtues. Place the basket with virtue strips before the group. He postulated that the virtues were the means in between extreme behaviors. Ask if the youth know from their math studies what a "mean" is. Affirm that it is not exactly a midpoint, nor an average, but a different kind of "middle." To Aristotle, a virtue might be a balanced way to behave, a moderate way to act that sits in between extremes.

Place the second basket before the group. Invite the group to play a matching game. One person pulls a virtue out of the first basket and they work with a partner to find the extremes in the other basket. For the purpose of the game, there are ten virtues in the baskets, though Aristotle defined more.

After all the matches are complete, ask if any terms need defining. Did any virtues come as a surprise? Do participants agree with Aristotle about virtue being a mean between extremes? Do they agree that the virtues identified truly are virtues? Why or why not?