Proceedings of the 2016 Assembly - Ethics of Life

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The volume “Virtues in the Ethics of Life” contains the Proceedings of the 22nd General Assembly of the PAV Members dedicated to the rediscovery of virtues in the ethics of life.

Through a structured approach, this volume intends to offer the study contribution that emerged in the course of the 22nd General Assembly of PAV Members, with a view towards re-proposing an approach based on virtues within the context of the ethics of life. The recovery and promotion of the ethics of virtues is a response to the ethical perspectives that prevail in today’s bioethical debate, which are characterized by a procedural approach, in which the role assigned to rules and formal principles is predominant, and which fail to grasp the core of the ethical life. Understood as a natural completion and elucidation of an ethics centred on the individual, the ethics of virtues appears, instead, as a viable way for re-humanizing not only technical-scientific action, but ethical action too.

The perspective of the ethics of virtues, understood as acquired dispositions to do a certain good, can be very helpful, in fact, both in relation to knowledge and to action. It brings together the acting subject’s need to do good and the practices he/she exercises in a consistent manner, as well as the aspect of incorporating – within an organic perspective – the role of emotions and passions in the ethical life. The ethics of virtues implies, in fact, a unitary project of life intentionally oriented towards its intrinsic end, on the basis of a hierarchy of values, and open to recognizing and achieving the ends-goods of human activities.

As Pope Francis underscored in the opening address of the Assembly, “in the sphere of the ethics of life, the necessary norms, which support respect of the person, are not enough on their own to fully ensure man’s good. The virtue of one who works for the promotion of life is the ultimate guarantee that the good will really be respected.” Moral virtues, in fact, being the habitus of choosing what is concretely good for man, perfect the moral agent and concretize in the plurality of human (and, therefore, also professional) experiences the aspects of universality and completeness typical of moral action, giving it the possibility of recognizing and addressing, in a fully human way, the real needs of those who suffer.

“Today scientific knowledge and technical instruments are not lacking, able to offer support to human life in its weakest aspects. But humanity is so often lacking. Good actions are not the correct application of ethical wisdom, what is needed is a real interest in the frail person. The doctors and all health workers must always combine science, technology and humanity.”


The volume can be purchased:

- through the website


Click the attached PDF file for a preview of the volume (table of contents and introduction).