HAUERWAS AMONG THE VIRTUES

Authors


Jennifer A. Herdt is Gilbert L. Stark Professor of Christian Ethics at Yale University. She is the author of Putting On Virtue: The Legacy of the Splendid Vices (2008) and Religion and Faction in Hume's Moral Philosophy (1997). She is currently completing a book on ethical formation from Weimar humanism to contemporary pragmatism. Jennifer A. Herdt, Yale Divinity School, 409 Prospect Street, New Haven, CT 06511, jennifer.herdt@yale.edu

ABSTRACT

Despite the fact that Stanley Hauerwas has not taken up many of the topics normally associated with virtue ethics, has explicitly distanced himself from the enterprise known as “virtue ethics,” and throughout his career has preferred other categories of analysis, ranging from character and agency to practices and liturgy, it is nevertheless clear that his work has had a deep and transformative impact on the recovery of virtue within Christian ethics, and that this impact has largely to do with the ways in which his thought resists normalization. This essay traces the evolution of Hauerwas's reflections on virtue and the virtues over the course of his career, with special attention to how this has been bound up with an increasingly emphatic theological particularism that has remained ambivalent between what I term “comprehensive” versus “exclusive” particularism. I argue that it is important to distinguish between these, and suggest that grasping the destructive tendencies of “exclusive” particularism should cement our commitment to shouldering the responsibilities associated with comprehensive particularism.

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