Virtue ethics. Good without God?

In virtue ethics things which are virtuous are those attributes which are the “golden mean” between two vices. For example, honesty is a virtue between the vice of dishonesty and brute honesty, and to be the most virtuous one can be it is to strive to not lie and to be honest, but to not be so honest as to hurt someone. A virtue ethicist would say a sometimes a “white lie” is more virtuous than brute honest, while Kant would argue lying is always wrong as a categorical imperative. A virtue ethicist would appeal to these great making properties as truthmakers that make us good.

Virtue ethics are grounded in virtues such as being kind, loving, honest, brave, generous or other good making virtues. God as good would supposedly process all these good making virtues. One can of course ask is God good because of these good making virtues or are good making virtues good because God makes them good (Euthyphro)…but to a person whose moral grounding is based upon God, does the question really matter to their moral ontology? To me the question is what is the advantage of grounding one’s morality in God if we can just appeal to the good making virtues directly? In other words, what is more moral to appeal to the morality from God since either if God is either beholden to the good making virtues or the good making virtues are good because of God…to us the truthmaker either way seems to me is the good making virtues which makes a person good. Or simply put, what makes us good would not be God to a virtue ethicist, but the good making virtues that we appeal to makes us good.

Author: Steve McRae

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