Terminology Tuesday: Virtue
Virtue: A disposition or character trait that is itself an excellence or good or that tends to lead to what is good, with moral virtues being those excellences that foster human flourishing. In ancient and medieval philosophy ethical thinking centered on the virtues – what they are, how they are related and how they are to be achieved. The medievals accepted the cardinal virtues of the ancient world (wisdom, justice, courage, temperance) and added to them the three principle Christian virtues (faith, hope and love). Both ancient and medieval thinkers tied their account of the virtues as leading to human flourishing to accounts of human nature. Recent ethical theory has seen a rediscovery of the importance of the virtues and the development of virtue theory, which holds that concepts of the virtues are basic to ethics and not reducible to claims about moral duties or what is impersonally valuable.1
1. C.Stephen Evans, Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), p. 121.