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date: 24 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The themes of virtue and character—often encapsulated by the term ‘virtue ethics’ or ‘virtue theory’—are frequently considered peripheral to or non-existent within Christian thought in the nineteenth century. The purpose of this chapter is to demonstrate that this is a misunderstanding. To make this case, the argument begins by reiterating the basic narrative that explains the alleged disappearance of virtue. Turning to the constructive argument, the chapter then examines the differing roles of virtue, first, among representative post-Kantian Protestant and Catholic thinkers in Europe (Schleiermacher, Hegel, Kierkegaard, and Newman) and, second, amidst the reforming movements of temperance, abolition, and suffrage in America. In conclusion, the chapter highlights the shared convictions and confidence of Rauschenbusch and Ritschl concerning the role of virtue in building the Kingdom of God at the end of the nineteenth century.

Keywords: virtue ethics, virtue theory, human rights, social reform, practical wisdom, Christian perfectionism, Kingdom of God

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