chapter  25
12 Pages

Moral Inquiry

ByMICHAEL W. AUSTIN

Religion and ethics are often discussed in tandem. In the minds of many, religious beliefs and values are connected to moral beliefs and values in deep conceptual and substantial ways. Morality is thought by most theists to have a prominent place in human life, for a variety of reasons. For instance, many religious believers see the possibility of being moral as an opportunity to reflect the image (that is, the nature and character) of God. Some theists also believe that their fate in the afterlife is in some way related to the morality of their characters and actions in this life. Many theistic traditions include the belief that knowing, loving, and obeying God is the ultimate purpose of human existence, and that morality plays a crucial role in fulfilling this purpose. For example, medieval philosopher and theologian Thomas Aquinas argued that human fulfillment is constituted by knowing and loving God, and that this fulfillment is realized when we exemplify several important character traits, including the cardinal virtues of prudence, courage, temperance, and justice, as well as the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love (DeYoung et al. 2009).