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JP9350 Virtue Ethics and Natural Law

This subject introduces students to two prominent theoretical systems that underlie the Christian account of morality as a calling to experience holy joy: virtue ethics and natural law. Virtue ethics is a way of understanding morality that focuses on the full realisation of our natural potentials and supernatural gifts. Through the regenerative and sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, these potentialities are internally reconfigured and invigorated so as to attain to the faithful love embodied in Christ and his Church. In the Catholic tradition, natural law ethics also has this ultimate goal of union with Christ in view. Partially discerned by reason and experience, but more fully illumined by revelation, natural law expresses God’s gracious and ordering wisdom, intelligibly embedded within the sub-structures of creation, by which he rules his creatures, provides for their good, and draws them to union with himself. Inscribed on the human heart and corresponding to its deepest needs, natural law provides a normative yet dynamic and developmental trajectory which, when discerned and embraced, leads to human flourishing in harmony with the whole of creation. Students will be equipped with a body of this knowledge which will enable them to undertake professional work in the field and serve as a basis for further learning.