are defined as qualities of a person that make that person a good person
in community, and that contribute to the good of the community, or to the
good that humans are designed for"
to Stassen and Gushee, the components of ethical decision-making
inevitably include not only our ethical reasoning, but our social
communities, our broad worldviews, and our perceptions of the cultural
context in which change can take place:
The Way of Reasoning Dimension
(Rules and Practices; Principles and Virtues)
are the understood rules of the situation?
ethics (sometimes called deontological ethics) operate on the basis of
delineated and established rules, which are judged to be universal for all
cases. If exceptions exist to the rules, then the rules have to be
delineated again with new specific codes to cover these contingencies.
are the normative practices? How do people tend to act in these
MacIntyre defines a practice as:
coherent and complex form of socially established cooperative human
activity through which goods internal to that form of activity are
realized in the course of trying to achieve those standards of excellence
which are appropriate to, and partially definitive of, that form of
activity, with the result that human powers to achieve excellence, and the
human conceptions of the ends and good involved, are systematically
extended. (After Virtue 187)
other words, ethical understanding arises out of a particular practice
pursued by a group, which further defines the understanding as the
practices grows and shapes itself over time. Looking at ethics from a
practice-based understanding calls for paying attention to the context of
actions, as well as the worldview that gives meaning to the actions.
are the underlying principles?
ethics looks at how certain ideals support but also call into question
rules. Principles are broader than rules and may override them when
are the necessary virtues to accomplish something in this case?
says Augustine, "is a good habit consonant with our nature."
Thomas Aquinas further defines a virtue as,
operative habit essentially good, as distinguished from vice, an operative
habit essentially evil. Now a habit is a quality in itself difficult of
change, disposing well or ill the subject in which it resides, either
directly in itself or in relation to its operation. An operative habit is
a quality residing in a power or faculty in itself indifferent to this or
that line of action, but determined by the habit to this rather than to
that kind of acts. Virtue then has this in common with vice, that it
disposes a potency to a certain determined activity; but it differs
specifically from it in that it disposes it to good acts, i.e. acts in
consonance with right reason.
other words, virtues are a) good habits that predispose us to good actions
and b) represent a certain mature good quality made resident in a person.
The Basic Convictions Dimension
(God and Human Nature; The World/Reality;
Good and Evil; Truth and Falsehood; Beautiful and Ugly)
Olthuis defines worldview as
A worldview (or vision of life) is a framework or
set of fundamental beliefs through which we view the world and our calling
and future in it. The vision may be so internalized that it goes largely
unquestioned; it may be greatly refined through cultural-historical
development; it may not be explicitly developed into a systematic
conception of life; it may not be theoretically deepened into a
philosophy; it may not even be codified into credal form. Nevertheless,
this vision is a channel for the ultimate beliefs which give direction and
meaning to life. It is the integrative and interpretive framework by which
order and disorder are judged, the standard by which reality is managed
and pursued. It is the set of hinges on which all our everyday thinking
and doing turns. Although a [worldview] is held only by individuals, it is
communal in scope and structure. Since a worldview gives the terms of
reference by which the world and our place in it can be structured and
illumined, a worldview binds it adherents together into a community.
How do our basic
convictions, our basic worldview, about the world frame our ethical
does one understand the character of God?
does one understand human nature?
does one understand the character of the universe/world/basic reality?
does one understand the purpose of human life?
does a person know anything?
what basis do we know something to be true or false?
does one determine right from wrong, good from evil?
does one determine the beautiful and the ugly?
happens to a person at death?
The Passions/Loyalties Dimension
Models, Practiced Loyalties, Community Loyalties, Ultimate Loyalties)
The loyalties that
shape our character may be divided into four levels:
to friends, mentors, and models
loyalties to the practices and means that we regularly use to
achieve our goals.
loyalties to communities
loyalty to God
evidence do we have for each loyalty in the situation? Textual?
these loyalties contradict each other? Support each other?
one loyalty predominate over the other(s)?
the person or persons involved reflect in any direct way on their
loyalties? Are these loyalties left unexplored/unstated below the
The Perception Dimension
(Powers and Authorities; The
Threat; Social Change; Truthfulness and Openness)
Perception of the
context of actions powerfully shapes what people do.
is assumed about the nature of authority in this situation/context?
the authority and authority's power considered legitimate?
does this shape their actions?
the threat perception
do the persons assume to be the cause of the wrong?
they feel threatened?
is their response to that threat?
of various strategies for social change
the person feel able to change anything, to act effectively? Why or
social or psychological forces stand in the way of change? How strong
truthfulness/ desire for real understanding
the person feel he or she can trust the information given?
strongly is the truth desired?
Glen H and David P. Gushee. Kingdom
Ethics: Following Jesus in Contemporary Context.
: IVP, 2003.]