Virtues in the Ethics of Life Workshop
On Friday, March 4th 2016, the Pontifical Academy of Life organized workshop "Virtues in the Ethics of Life": as usual, it took place in the Vatican.
“Through the use of reason,
the human person is capable of recognizing both the profound and objective
dignity of his own being, and the ethical requirements that derive from it. In
other words, man can discern in himself the value and the moral requirements
of his own dignity. It is a discernment that entails a discovery open to
further refinement following the coordinates of the "historicity"
that are typical of human knowledge” (Address of John Paul II to the
participants in the General Assembly of the Pontifical
Academy for Life, 27 February 2002).
Every man is gifted with a
natural disposition to know both the fundamental principles of the natural
moral law, which resound in his heart eternally calling him to do good and to
avoid evil (cfr. Gaudium et Spes,
16), as well as, the norms for concrete acts in view of the realization of the
moral good. However, the determination of moral norms (as those which have to
do with the protection and the promotion of human life) and of their concrete
actualization can be difficult, increasingly so due to the cultural and
personal conditioning which characterize the “historicity” of the life of each
The proposals of certain
widespread moral theories in the area of the ethics of life (principalism,
consequentialism, situational ethics, etc.) are not able to offer a sufficient perspective
to set in motion a correct deliberation, which would guarantee, on the one
hand, the proper foundation in the natural moral law, and on the other hand,
the suitable response to the concrete circumstances. Furthermore, these
theories tend to reduce the moral act to a mere application of norms and
principles, turning ones’ attention from the moral agent to the act itself.
Therefore, there emerges a
central need, for those who work each day in health care and research, to have
certain criteria, not only regarding fundamental principles, but also the core
of the act, which is the process of deliberation.
Ethics from a moral virtues
perspective, intended as acquired habits which accomplish a determined good, is
the perfect assistant, both on the level of conscience and on the level of the
act. Virtue Ethics implies a unified plan of life oriented towards the
recognition and attainment of the ends-goods
of human activities. In the multiplicity of human experiences (and therefore,
also in the professional), moral virtues, being the habitus for mankind to choose the concrete good, perfects the moral
agent and brings concreteness to the instance of universality and the completeness
of the moral act, also informing the act of deliberation, the excellence of
which is prudence, and bringing to term the natural law on a practical level.