Volume 92, Issue 3, Summer 2018
The Morally Difficult Notion of Heaven
A Critique of the Faith-Based Ethics of Avicenna and Aquinas
I will argue that Avicenna’s and Aquinas’s faith-based virtue ethics are crucially different from Aristotle’s virtue ethics, in that their ethics hinges on the theological notion of heaven, which is constitutively independent of the ethical life of the agent. As a result, their faith-based virtue ethics is objectionable. Moreover, I will also argue that the notion of heaven that Avicenna and Aquinas deploy in their moral philosophy is problematic; for it can rationally permit believers to commit morally horrendous actions. Finally, I will present a Kantian notion of heaven which is immune to the aforementioned moral objection. The Kantian notion of heaven, nevertheless, cannot ground any view of ethics as it is constitutively dependent on the ethical life of the agent.