Submission Title

Virtue Ethics and Quaker Traditions

Location

Vivian A. Bull Music Center: Delkin Recital Hall

Subject Area

Religious Studies

Description

Beliefs are conventionally understood to guide people’s actions. The actions which people take are, conversely, generally understood to be products of what they believe. However, these claims are challenged by the fact that many Quakers hold that they do not have a creed. This feature of Quakerism creates a tension with the theory that actions must follow from beliefs. That tension prompts a question: How can Quakers make ethical decisions in an effective manner when they lack a creed? The answer to such a question is significant for two reasons. First, it provides insights into the particular case of Quakerism. Second, it brings about an important examination of the general proposition that an action must be based on a belief.

Research indicates that many variations of Quaker ethics resemble virtue ethics. This is not to say that Quakerism and the tradition of virtue ethics share a common origin, as they do not. Rather, the tendencies and values of many Quakers cause them to approach moral dilemmas in a manner which closely resembles that of virtue ethics. Accordingly, virtue ethics can be used as a tool with which one can understand, explain, and defend Quaker ethical reasoning.

Comments

For the senior thesis on which this presentation is based, refer to Quaker Virtue Ethics: Religious Life without Creeds.

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May 17th, 1:30 PM May 17th, 2:00 PM

Virtue Ethics and Quaker Traditions

Vivian A. Bull Music Center: Delkin Recital Hall

Beliefs are conventionally understood to guide people’s actions. The actions which people take are, conversely, generally understood to be products of what they believe. However, these claims are challenged by the fact that many Quakers hold that they do not have a creed. This feature of Quakerism creates a tension with the theory that actions must follow from beliefs. That tension prompts a question: How can Quakers make ethical decisions in an effective manner when they lack a creed? The answer to such a question is significant for two reasons. First, it provides insights into the particular case of Quakerism. Second, it brings about an important examination of the general proposition that an action must be based on a belief.

Research indicates that many variations of Quaker ethics resemble virtue ethics. This is not to say that Quakerism and the tradition of virtue ethics share a common origin, as they do not. Rather, the tendencies and values of many Quakers cause them to approach moral dilemmas in a manner which closely resembles that of virtue ethics. Accordingly, virtue ethics can be used as a tool with which one can understand, explain, and defend Quaker ethical reasoning.