Christians among the Virtues

  • Theological Conversations with Ancient and Modern Ethics

  • by Stanley Hauerwas, Charles Pinches

  • 248 pages, 6.00 x 9.00

  • Paperback | 9780268008192 | February 1997

  • eBook (Web PDF) | 9780268076672 | February 1997


Christians among the Virtues investigates the distinctiveness of virtues as illuminated by Christian practice, using a discussion of Aristotle’s ethics together with the work of significant contemporary scholars such as Alasdair MacIntyre and Martha Nussbaum. Hauerwas and Pinches converse with, learn from, and also critically engage powerful and explicitly non-Christian accounts of virtues, and then form a specifically Christian account of certain key virtues, including obedience, hope, courage, and patience. This book will deepen the current public debate about virtue by showing how different traditions and practices yield distinctive understandings of the virtues, and by articulating the particularity of virtues informed by Christian practice.

Hauerwas and Pinches begin with a discussion of Aristotle’s account of happiness, virtue, and friendship, and explore how the temporal character of life threatens the possibility of being virtuous. The authors then contrast this idea with the Christian recognition of our temporal limitations as a call to virtue, rather than a threat. In the second section, the authors address a work by John Casey which attempts to present an account of the virtues purged of their Christian heritage. This analysis, as well as the critical readings of MacIntyre and Nussbaum, will be of particular interest to philosophers and theologians alike.

The authors bring a theological voice to the popular and philosophical debates about virtue. While the work encourages Christians to think about what is unique to Christian virtue, its specificity does not limit its applicability but opens up and deepens the debate over the particular interpretations of virtues: calling on others to present more specific articulations of what it means to be courageous, obedient, hopeful, and patient, and to contrast those accounts with the Christian interpretations presented by the authors. In this respect, Christians among the Virtues is the first work in what could be called the “second stage” of the recovery of the virtues—the work of understanding the difference among interpretations of the virtues in the light of different practices and traditions.