Interpreting Anselm of Canterbury as a Virtue Ethicist

The Saint Anselm Journal 14 (2):97-116 (2019)
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Abstract

What sort of moral theory should we view Saint Anselm of Canterbury as holding and using in his writings? In this paper, I argue that Anselm is best understood as a virtue ethicist. In the first part of the paper, I consider whether his approach could be understood in terms of deontological or natural law theories. In the second, I make a case for Anselm being a virtue ethicist. In the third part, I focus on this theme as found in treatises published during Anselm’s lifetime. In the fourth, I look at other texts within the Anselmian corpus, notably the De humanibus moribus and the Dicta Anselmi. In the fifth and sixth parts, I turn to Anselm’s letters, focusing first on general discussions, and then on discussions focused upon specific virtues and vices.

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Gregory Sadler
Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design

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