Cover

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Half Title, Series Page, Title Page, Copyright, Quotation

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

This project has been a long time in the making, and I am happy to have the opportunity to thank those who have made it possible.
The idea for the causal approach to virtue was born a good few years ago in my doctoral dissertation on temperance, distilled in the first chapter of this book. ...

Note on Sources

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pp. xi-xiv

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Introduction

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pp. xv-xvviv

Not every theological ethicist is comfortable with the oft-repeated claim that the best approach to the discipline is offered by virtue ethics. Theological ethics (moral theology, Christian ethics) can be thought of as the systematic attempt, through reasoned reflection on revelation, tradition, and human experience, to answer the question, “How should we live?” ...

Part I. Defining Virtue

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1. Defining Temperance Causally

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pp. 3-22

Let us begin with an analysis of temperance. The purpose is to construct a causal account of temperance that begins from the one found in the Summa Theologiae. The interpretation of Aquinas to be built on later is not argued in depth here but is left for later chapters, when the more controversial claims will be justified. The reader is therefore asked temporarily to take on trust what is yet to be established, ...

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2. Virtue as a Habit

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pp. 23-36

Thomas Aquinas prefaces his causal definition of virtue by characterizing virtue as a good operative habit: “Human virtue, which is an operative habit, is a good habit, and operative of the good” (I.II 55.3c).1 In answer to the question, “What kind of thing is a virtue?” Aquinas, in effect, replies, “a habit.” ...

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3. Virtue as a Good Habit

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pp. 37-57

“Human virtue, which is an operative habit, is a good habit, and operative of the good” (I.II 55.3).1 A virtue is a habit. To say that it is a good habit may seem to border on the tautological. Yet Aquinas is aware that there is need for some account of what makes a habit good (in the constitutive or formal sense of “makes”). ...

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4. Virtue’s Definition

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pp. 58-72

A hologram has the surprising property that each of its constituent parts encodes information about the entire three-dimensional image. Even were only a fragment to remain, all would not be lost: when a single piece is illumined with a laser light, astonishingly, the full image unfolds. ...

Part II. Causal Ethics

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5. Exemplar and Object

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pp. 75-91

A close examination of the four articles in which Aquinas attempts to define virtue (I.II 54.1-4) has revealed that he understands virtue in terms of its causes. Before we look in depth at how Aquinas employs the schema of the formal, material, final, and efficient causes to elaborate a comprehensive virtue theory, ...

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6. End and Agent

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pp. 92-106

The final cause is an especially controversial yet crucial issue in causal virtue theory. Aquinas explains the overall agenda in theological ethics in final-causal terms: “In the first place we must consider the ultimate end of human life, and then those things by which a human can advance towards this end, or deviate from it. ...

Part III. The Causal Analysis of Virtue

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7. Rational Virtue

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pp. 109-129

So many anomalies emerge from this line of reasoning that it may seem that Aquinas is attempting to hammer an Augustinian round peg into an Aristotelian square hole. Yet his overriding goal is not exegesis; rather, it is to give an account of virtue in general. ...

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8. Passionate Virtue

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pp. 130-149

A virtue is the perfection of a potential or power (perfectio potentiae) (I.II 66.3). Virtue’s material cause is not the perfection itself but the potential for it. The material cause corresponds to the “plasticity” of human nature, to use William James’s term: the capacity of the human psyche to be formed well or badly, ...

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9. Telic Virtue

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pp. 150-167

The four causes—formal, material, final, and efficient—consist of two pairs, each with its own characteristic role in virtue theory. Whereas the formal and material causes have to do with the specification of virtue, the final and efficient causes are principles of execution (compare I.II 9.1). Thus the discussion must move from the static, ...

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10. Graced Virtue

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pp. 168-189

When Aquinas finally comes to the last of virtue’s causes—the efficient or agent cause—he corrects Peter Lombard’s definition once again: “The efficient cause of infused virtue, about which the [Augustinian] definition is given, is God. This is why it is said, ‘which God works in us without us.’ ...

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11. Rethinking Infusion

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pp. 190-212

Virtue’s infusion by God is integral to Aquinas’s theological ethics and is, in light of contemporary virtue theories, something distinctive and surprising. For some the infusion of virtue promises a welcome paradigm shift in virtue theory; for others the idea is disconcertingly problematic. ...

Appendix: Virtue Defined

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pp. 213-214

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 215-224

Index

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pp. 225-232

About the Author

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