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Christian Ethics - Essay Example

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Moral development has not yet become a major concern for virtue ethics, even though the topic was central to the moral philosophy f Aristotle, the traditional source f much virtue ethics. (Carr 1991) Psychologists concentrate more on the moral development f children than on that f adults…
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Download file to see previous pages (MacIntyre 1981, 169-89) In his usage, practices are socially established activities that lead those who participate in them to appreciate certain things as goods and to internalize standards f excellence in achieving them. Practices are done for their own sake, such as friendship, not for additional ends, such as practicing free throws in basketball. Martha Nussbaum recommends the engaged reading f literature as a practice that expands moral perception and empathy. This skill is a necessary component f humanistic education, even for lawyers and scientists. (Nussbaum 1997, 85-112) Diana Fritz Cates argues that the practice f committed friendship trains desires and moral vision in the virtue f compassion. The willingness to engage others, even strangers, in their suffering gains added meaning as a practice within a Christian frame f reference.
Maria Antonaccio describes recent attention to "practices" as conscious efforts at moral formation. (Antoncaccio 1998, 69-92) She distinguishes between an "existential" model f askesis advocated by Pierre Hadot's study f Stoic sources, a "therapeutic" model in Nussbaum, and an "aesthetic" approach in Michel Foucault. Antonaccio doubts that these attempts to ground moral development in practical exercises can succeed while their authors refuse to consider a normative theory f human nature and moral ideals. Although theories f human nature or development are unpopular in an era that stresses particularity and pluralism, she writes that "some form f theoretical reflection is necessary in order to judge what form f therapy' human beings need, and to assess critically the processes f formation already underway."
Some writings on practices use a faith tradition to specify a normative view f human nature that guides moral and spiritual development. Spiritual practices are being recognized as central to Christian moral formation. Dorothy C. Bass edited a collection f essays on 12 central Christian practices, such as hospitality, keeping Sabbath, and forgiveness, that shape the mind and heart in the Christian way f life. With Craig Dykstra she writes that "when we see some f our ordinary activities as Christian practices, we come to perceive how our daily lives are all tangled up with the things God is doing in the world." Catherine M. Wallace analyzes the virtue f fidelity as a constitutive element f the practice f marriage. Fidelity has more than instrumental value in keeping a marriage intact; more importantly, it does something to the spouses by training their desires and reshaping their identities over time. (Kotva 1997, 272-90)
From the perspective f evangelical Christianity, Brad J. Kallenberg writes: "Christianity cannot be explained or understood without reference to a distinctive cluster f practices. In order to participate in the tradition called Christianity one must necessarily participate in these practices." (Kallenberg 1997, 7-29) He highlights certain practices f community moral formation: witness, worship, works f mercy, discernment, and discipleship. Reinhard Hutter points out that Luther redefined the marks f the Church to be practices. There is an ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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