Encyclopedia of Sciences and Religions

2013 Edition
| Editors: Anne L. C. Runehov, Lluis Oviedo

Virtue

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-8265-8_1667

Description

Virtue usually refers to some kind of dispositional perfection or excellence, as its opposite vice refers to the lack, or in some cases the excess, of some valued qualities. The central property of virtue is that it is a golden mean between excess and deficit. In many cases, however, the golden mean cannot be defined invariably. For example, what is courageous for one person can be foolhardiness for another. In Western tradition, the fundamental virtue that is supposed to control the reflection and help to find the proper way of conduct is called prudence or practical wisdom (phronesis). It is possible that virtues can contradict each other, and practical wisdom is needed to resolve these issues.

Both virtues and vices equip their holders with a potency to act toward some determined end. In classical Christian theology, virtues have been understood as “good operative habits,” which are in accord with reason and our nature. From the viewpoint of actions, being virtuous means...

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References

  1. Adams, R. M. (2006). A theory of virtue. Excellence in being for the good. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Haidt, J. (2012). The righteous mind. London: Allen Lane.Google Scholar
  3. Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: a handbook and classification. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Roberts, R. C., & Wood, W. J. (2007). Intellectual virtues. An essay in regulative epistemology. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Slyke, J. A. V., Peterson, G., Brown, W. S., & Reimer, K. S. (2012). Theology and the science of moral action: virtue ethics, exemplarity, and cognitive neuroscience. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  6. Thiele, L. P. (2006). The heart of judgment: practical wisdom, neuroscience and narrative. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland