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Durham e-Theses
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A Defence of Theological Virtue Ethics

WILLOWS, ADAM,MATTHEW (2015) A Defence of Theological Virtue Ethics. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Author-imposed embargo until 27 January 2020.

Abstract

In this thesis, I show that the commitments of a theological tradition are a conceptual resource which allows new and more robust responses to criticisms of virtue ethics. Until now, theological virtue ethics has not provided a distinctive response to these criticisms and has had to rely on arguments made by secular virtue ethicists. These arguments do not always address theological concerns and do not take advantage of the unique assets of theological ethics.
This thesis resolves this problem by providing a chapter-by-chapter confrontation of criticisms of virtue ethics and offering a specifically theological response to each one. In so doing, it identifies the key theological commitments that enable these responses and constitute a particular strength of theological virtue ethics.
I consider criticisms that attack the internal coherence or completeness of virtue ethics as well as those which associate virtue ethics with other problematic philosophical positions. In the former group, I address the claims that virtue ethics is not a complete moral theory, that it cannot explain right action, and that it relies on a flawed concept of character. In the latter, I deal with the arguments that virtue ethics must subscribe to moral particularism, moral relativism or egoism. The final part of the thesis returns to the previous chapters to draw out the concepts that are central to these responses.
Theological work on the virtues has made important contributions to ethics but has so far been vulnerable to criticism. This thesis addresses this gap and highlights the advantages that theological commitments have to offer virtue ethics.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Theology; Philosophy; Virtue; Ethics; Aquinas; Situationism; Relativism; Egoism; Particularism; Teleology; Natural Law; Good
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2015
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:28 Jan 2015 08:37

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