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Keywords:

  • Augustine;
  • Peter Lombard;
  • Abelard;
  • Christian ethics;
  • virtue;
  • medieval theology

Abstract

In the history of ethics, it remains remains unclear how Christians of the Middle Ages came to see God-given virtues as dispositions (habitus) created in the human soul. Patristic works could surely support other conceptions of the virtues given by grace. For example, one might argue that all such virtues are forms of charity, so that they must be affections of the soul, or that they consist in what the soul does, not anything the soul has. Scholars usually assume that the explanation lies in the impact of Aristotle's philosophy on medieval theology. This essay argues that the dispositional account of God-given virtues was already entrenched by the end of the twelfth century and probably owes more to the influence of Augustine's treatise On the Good of Marriage.