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    An exploration of virtue ethics and its relational value: A comparative study in the Light of Romanus Cessario, James F. Keenan, and Joseph J. Kotva.

    Zaggi, Douglas John (2016) An exploration of virtue ethics and its relational value: A comparative study in the Light of Romanus Cessario, James F. Keenan, and Joseph J. Kotva. PhD thesis, St. Patrick's College, Maynooth.

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    Current moral theology is witnessing a significant renewal and retrieval of virtue ethics. It is not however without challenges; including the critique that it is too selfcentred. The question this objection raises is whether the ethical framework proposed by virtue ethics has personal and communal concerns? The task of this thesis is to defend that position that virtue ethics unifies both the good of the agent and the good of others. To this end, the thesis employs a number of complimentary methods: diachronic, synchronic and comparative. Such methods are not self-contained but mutually enforce each other building towards a more comprehensive account. Chapter One may be described as a “status quaestionis” or review of “the state of investigation.” It utilises a diachronic method, identifying the recent context, challenges and the historical traditions. It begins by situating the turn to virtue ethics in moral theology as a significant part of the renewal called by Vatican II. It outlines some reasons for the eclipse and retrieval of virtue ethics in recent decades. In particular it draws on the analysis of Alasdair MacIntyre and Joseph J. Kotva. The current reappraisal of virtue ethics is a recovery of a tradition of ethical reflection. The opening chapter therefore proceeds to outline some of the main developments and figures within that tradition. This overview is intended to provide an intellectual context for the types of reflection currently taking place in virtue ethics within the field of moral theology. It is primarily a history of ideas, focusing on the classical and Christian tradition, with particular attention to the pivotal role of Thomas Aquinas. The synchronic method of following three chapters presents a close reading of three moral theologians: each representative of three noteworthy exemplars of the centering of virtue ethics within moral theology, namely Romanus Cessario, James F. Keenan, and Joseph J. Kotva. Chapter Two details the theological-anthropological approach of Romanus Cessario on the virtues. He characterizes his method as ressourcement-Thomist and a realist Thomist. Such an approach returns to “authoritative sources” of Christian faith in order to rediscover their meaning and establish a continuity with past. It considers particular themes like virtue ethics and human nature, development of virtues, virtue ethics with a personal an communal dimensions. Chapter Three presents the approach of James Keenan. His method may be described as a revisionist-Thomist. Such an approach develops a progressive moral theology by weaving together personalist currents of contemporary philosophy with pastoral concerns and focusing on key place of the person within virtue ethics. Keenan explores other virtues and various contexts in which the relational value virtue ethics fits appropriately. He interlaces the virtues of justices, fidelity, and selfcare with contexts like discipleship, and sexual ethics in order to create the relational model. Chapter Four turns to virtue ethics within the Reformed tradition and in particular the work of Joseph Kotva. His approach is … In particular, it focuses on Joseph Kotva, a neo-Aristotelian with a Thomist nuance, who, as a result, is marked by an ecumenical tone. The perspective of his schematization is very theological as he explains the dynamic interplay between, Christology, grace and the virtues. The chapter will progress to show the biblical connections with virtue ethics in order to elucidate that virtue ethics has both a personal and communal orientation. Chapter Five draws together these different explorations of virtue. The comparative methodology employed in this chapter provides a means to categorise divergences and convergences among the authors, and therefore commonalities and lacunae within the contemporary renewal of virtue ethics in moral theology. The themes addressed are: tradition, the nature of virtue, the development of virtue, and the use of scripture, the human person, and relationality. It further suggests a foundational reason for the differences in approach, style and, indeed, the norms defended by each of the authors. Virtue ethics proposes that ethical reflection cannot be independent of a treatment of the human person. Therefore, drawing on Millard J. Erickson’s typology of models of the human person – substantive, relational and functional – it proposes that the each author aligns with one of the categories. Central to each of the accounts of virtue ethics is the role of relationality and the consequent rebuttal of the charge of selfishness that opened the thesis. However, the authors restrict relationality to human-to-human interaction. Accordingly, an allinclusive approach that encompasses the environment should be taken seriously by virtue ethicists.

    Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
    Keywords: exploration; virtue ethics; relational value; comparative study; Romanus Cessario; James F. Keenan; Joseph J. Kotva;
    Academic Unit: St Patrick's College, Maynooth > Faculty of Theology
    Item ID: 14394
    Depositing User: IR eTheses
    Date Deposited: 29 Apr 2021 09:50
      Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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