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Faith and Philosophy

Volume 15, Issue 4, October 1998
Virtues and Virtue Theories From a Christian Perspective

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Displaying: 1-9 of 9 documents

1. Faith and Philosophy: Volume > 15 > Issue: 4
David A. Horner What It Takes to be Great: Aristotle and Aquinas on Magnaminity
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The revival of virtue ethics is largely inspired by Aristotle, but few---especially Christians---follow him in seeing virtue supremely exemplified in the “magnanimous” man. However, Aristotle raises a matter of importance: the character traits and type of psychological stance exemplified in those who aspire to acts of extraordinary excellence. I explore the accounts of magnanimity found in both Aristotle and Aquinas, defending the intelligibility and acceptability of some central elements of a broadly Aristotelian conception of magnanimity. Aquinas, I argue, provides insight into how Christian ethics may appropriate central elements of a broadly Aristotelian conception of extraordinary virtue.
2. Faith and Philosophy: Volume > 15 > Issue: 4
Phillip L. Quinn The Virtue of Obedience
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This paper is a critical study of Christians among the Virtues: Theological Conversations with Ancient and Modern Ethics by Stanley Hauerwas and Charles Pinches. It has four parts. First, I consider several possible responses to G. E. M. Anscombe’s famous challenge to modern moral philosophy in order to provide a framework in which the project of Hauerwas and Pinches can be located. Next I criticize their attempt to eliminate the realm of obligation from morality. Then I examine their treatment of Martha Nussbaum’s work onAristotle in order to explore differences between secular and Christian appropriations of Aristotle. Finally, I discuss their views on the virtue of obedience and criticize their arguments against rival Kantian and divine command views.
3. Faith and Philosophy: Volume > 15 > Issue: 4
Kenneth W. Kemp The Virtue of Faith in Theology, Natural Science, and Philosophy
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In this paper, I attempt to develop the account of intellectual virtues offered by Aristotle and St. Thomas in a way which recognizes faith as a good intellectual habit. I go on to argue that, as a practical matter, this virtue is needed not only in theology, where it provides the basis of further intellectual work, but also in the natural sciences, where it is required given the complexity of the subject matter and the cooperative nature of the enterprise.
4. Faith and Philosophy: Volume > 15 > Issue: 4
Robert C. Roberts Character Ethics and Moral Wisdom
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A particular conception of the enterprise of character ethics is proposed, in which the central preoccupation of the discipline is to explore the logical-psychological features of particular virtues. An attraction of this approach is the prospect it holds out of promoting in its practitioners and readers the virtue of moral wisdom. Such analysis is sensitive to differences among moral traditions which imply differences in the logical-psychological features of versions of types of virtues. Thus Christian generosity could be expected to have some features which differentiate it from Aristotelian or Stoic generosity. On the proposed view, the aim is not to produce a theory of the virtues which, it is argued, is likely to be reductivist and thus systematically distorting. Instead, the aim is produce “grammatical” analyses of them. To this end a series of open-ended questions are provided, to guide the exploration. The method is illustrated by aschematic analysis of the virtue of gratitude. The paper ends with remarks about the power and limits of such analysis to produce moral wisdom.
5. Faith and Philosophy: Volume > 15 > Issue: 4
Robert Merrihew Adams Self-Love and the Vices of Self-Preference
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The paper explores the extent to which self-love, as understood by Bishop Butler, may be in harmony with altruistic virtue. Whereas Butler was primarily concerned to rebut suspicions directed against altruism, the suspicions principally addressed by the present writer are directed against self-love. It is argued that the main vices of self-preference---particularly selfishness, self-centeredness, and arrogance---are not essentially excesses of self-love and, indeed, do not necessarily involve self-love. lt is argued further that self-love is something one is typically taught as a child, for socially compelling reasons. This suggests how a healthy self-love and a healthy commitment to the common good can be integrated and will normally be in harmony.
6. Faith and Philosophy: Volume > 15 > Issue: 4
J.L.A. Garcia Lies and the Vices of Self-Deception
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This essay applies to the morality of lying and other deception a sketch of a kind of virtues-based, input-driven, role-centered, patient-focused, ethical theory. Among the questions treated are: What is wrong with lying? Is it always and intrinsically immoral? Can it be correct, as some have vigorously maintained, that lying is morally wrong in some circumstances where other forms of deliberate dissimulation are not? If so, how can that be? And how can it be that lying to someone is immoral when other, harsher ways of treating her are permissible? The essay examines several responses to the first question, and suggests that lying violates morality as an excessive departure from the role-derived virtues of charity and justice: the liar wills another person the evil of false belief precisely in the proposition for which the speaker offers her assurance and takes special responsibility in asserting. So conceived, lying is an especially egregious form of treachery and degrading manipulation of another person. Appeal is then made to the gravity inherent in lying so conceived to suggest ways of answering the other questions which would support the traditional Augustinian claim that lying is inherently impermissible and ineligible in circumstances where other forms of deliberate deception may not be, and even in situations where violent attack may be permissible.At the end, a taxonomy of more and less rigorist positions of lying is offered. A tentative proposal is made that, while consistent with the traditional Augustinian rigorist position that Iving is always immoral, nevertheless has some features that may slightly soften that view’s practical application. The proposed view does this in a way similar to that in which allowing moral dilemmas may soften it, for allowing dilemmas means there may be cases where an act of a type always immoral may still be more eligible than any alternative. However, it is maintained that the view here proposed need not countenance genuine dilemmas.
7. Faith and Philosophy: Volume > 15 > Issue: 4
Linda Zagzebski The Virtues of God and the Foundations of Ethics
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In this paper I give a theological foundation to a radical type of virtue ethics I call motivation-based. In motivation-based virtue theory all moral concepts are derivative from the concept of a good motive, the most basic component of a virtue, where what I mean by a motive is an emotion that initiates and directs action towards an end. Here I give a foundation to motivation-based virtue theory by making the motivations of one person in particular the ultimate foundation of all moral value, and that person is God. The theory is structurally parallel to Divine Command Theory, but has a number of advantages over DC theory without the well-known problems. In particular, DM theory does not face a dilemma parallel to the famous Euthyphro problem, nor does it have any difficulty answering the question whether God could make cruelty morally right. Unlike DC theory, it explains the importance of Christology in Christian ethics, and it has the advantage of providing a unitary account of all evaluative properties, divine and human. I call the theory Divine Motivation Theory.
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8. Faith and Philosophy: Volume > 15 > Issue: 4
Notes and News
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9. Faith and Philosophy: Volume > 15 > Issue: 4
Index of Volume 15, 1998
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