Christian Ethics - Lesson 4

The Virtue Ethic and Agapism

Plato and Aristotle emphasize moral virtues. Agapism teaches that love should be the sole ultimate value and that all other values are derived from it.

Ronald Nash
Christian Ethics
Lesson 4
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The Virtue Ethic and Agapism

Philosophical Ethics

Part 3

III. The Virtue Ethic

A. Modern Proponents

1. Robert Roberts

2. Paul Holmer

B. Plato

1. Four cardinal virtues

2. The properly virtuous human being

3. Plato's emphasis

C. C. S. Lewis

D. Thomas Aquinas' Three Theological Virtues

E. Cardinal Virtues vs. Theological Virtues

F. Aristotle's Moral Virtues

1. A moral virtue is a disposition.

2. The golden mean

3. Humans are prone to vice.

4. Some behavior is always wrong.

5. Criticism of Aristotle

a. Does not account for original sin

b. Does not account for the supernatural dimension


IV. Agapism

A. William Frankena

B. What is agapism?

C. Act Agapism

1. Love is the guiding principle.

2. Act agapism is situational ethics.

3. Criticism of act agapism

a. The notion of love is ambiguous.

b. It does not account for human depravity.

c. Love needs guidance.

D. Rule Agapism

1. It functions within a set of rules.

2. Love provides the justification for the rules.


V. Synthesis of the Four Schools of Thought

A. Love is the foundation for rules.

B. The moral life will develop virtues.

C. Scripture lists the important traits of character.

D. Rules are important.

E. Consequences should not be ignored.

All Lessons
  • Overview of the class and definition of key terms.

  • Discussion of consequentialism, hedonism and utilitarianism.

  • The deontological ethic judges morality by examining the nature of actions and the will of agents rather than goals achieved.

  • Plato and Aristotle emphasize moral virtues. Agapism teaches that love should be the sole ultimate value and that all other values are derived from it.

  • C.S. Lewis compares morality to a fleet of ships. In order for them to have a successful voyage, they must run properly, be headed for the right destination, and the relations between the ships must be in proper order.

  • The role of individuals and government in meeting the needs of people in society.

  • Definition of justice and the role of individuals and the state in accomplishing justice.

  • Economics is a way of thinking about accumulating, distributing and determining value of resources.

  • Two major economic systems are capitalism and socialism.

  • Definition of Marxism and description of different types of Marxism and liberation theology.

  • Interventionism is the government stepping in to regulate a capitalistic economy.

  • Public education is facing challenges related to ethical relativism, values clarification, and functional, cultural, moral and spiritual illiteracy.

  • Some possible solutions for the problems in public education would include increased role of the family, increased motivation of students, local control of the education system, separation of the school and state, and educational choice.

  • Scripture is the starting point for a system of biblical ethics, but there are not ready-made answers for every situation.

  • The issues surrounding abortion center on when life begins, the rights of the mother, and the morality of ending a pregnancy by terminating a preborn child.

  • Many of the leaders in the feminist movement promote arguments in favor of legalized abortion.

  • Many people who promote infanticide also support euthanasia.

  • The bible teaches that homosexuality is not moral. Some studies indicate that people that practice a homosexual lifestyle have a high statistical chance of contracting AIDS.

  • Discussion of biblical, practical and legal issues surrounding the issues of capital punishment and civil disobedience.

  • Some people think the bible teaches that there are situations when a war is justified, and others think that the bible teaches pacifism.

  • God's ideal plan is that when people marry, they remain married for life. People have different opinions on what the Bible teaches about the morality of divorce and remarriage.

  • The Bible does not give a clear endorsement regarding whether or not it is moral to use birth control.

Theoretical and theological basis for Christians  living an ethical life.