Heythrop College Publications

Austin, Nicholas (2017) Normative Virtue Theory in Theological Ethics. Religions. [Journal Article] (Forthcoming)

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    What place is there for virtue theory in theological ethics? In addition, does theological ethics contribute anything to the theory of virtue? Many question the normative significance of virtue theory in theological ethics today, leaving it to rule-based ethics to provide action-guidance. There are three key objections to the normativity of virtue theory: that virtue theory is about agents rather than actions, that virtue theory has nothing to direct say about the morality of actions, and that the virtues are too vague to be of normative or action-guiding significance. This essay, drawing on Thomas Aquinas’s account of virtue, challenges these perceptions of virtue theory. A genuinely normative, action-guiding virtue theory is about qualities of character that are intrinsically oriented towards action; provides a rich moral vocabulary with which to describe the morality of particular actions, and the way in which they are right or wrong; and offers the right level of normative guidance that is neither too indefinite nor attempts to substitute for the prudential deliberation of the situated moral subject. Theological ethics in turn can contribute to virtue theory, especially by its emphasis on the ecstatic nature of mature moral virtue, and through its reflection on the virtue of spiritual discernment.

    Item Type: Journal Article
    Journal or Publication Title: Religions
    Additional Information: Open access journal
    Keywords: Virtue Ethics; Virtue Theory; Theological Ethics; Thomas Aquinas; Normative Ethics
    Department: Pastoral and Social Studies
    Depositing User: Vicky Rowley
    Date Deposited: 22 Sep 2017 08:31
    Last Modified: 02 Oct 2017 17:32
    URI: http://publications.heythrop.ac.uk/id/eprint/2625

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