Ethics and the Perfect Moral Law

Tyndale Bulletin 51 (2) (2000)

Summary This paper examines contemporary virtue ethics and the claim that Christian ethics is a virtue ethic. Three central theses are identified as being central to virtue ethics: a priority thesis, a perfectionist thesis and a communitarian thesis. It is argued that defences of the priority thesis—it best addresses the moral crisis in our society, it does justice to historical consciousness and it remedies the incompleteness in deontic ethics—are unconvincing. It is argued that virtue and moral perfection are best understood in terms of psychologically appropriate dispositions to act in accordance with moral principles. It is further argued that the communitarian thesis raises relativist difficulties and fails to do justice to the universal elements of morality. Each of these arguments is developed philosophically and the implications for Christian ethics are explored. In light of the theory of virtue sketched in the paper it is concluded that the independence thesis, upon which virtue ethics rests, is untenable and that an examination of the structure of the universal moral principles underlying the Christian faith remains the proper subject matter for Christian ethics.
Keywords Virtue ethics  Christian ethics  McIntyre
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References found in this work BETA

Modern Moral Philosophy.G. E. M. Anscombe - 1958 - Philosophy 33 (124):1 - 19.
Alienation, Consequentialism, and the Demands of Morality.Peter Railton - 1984 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 13 (2):134-171.
Non-Relative Virtues: An Aristotelian Approach.Martha C. Nussbaum - 1988 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 13 (1):32-53.
Utilitarianism.J. S. Mill - 1861/1998 - Oxford University Press UK.
By Virtue of a Virtue.Harold Alderman - 1982 - Review of Metaphysics 36 (1):127 - 153.

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