Volume 93, Issue 1, Winter 2019
W. Scott Cleveland, Brandon Dahm
The Virtual Presence of Acquired Virtues in the Christian
Aquinas’s doctrine that infused virtues accompany sanctifying grace raises many questions. We examine one: how do the infused virtues relate to the acquired virtues? More precisely, can the person with the infused virtues possess the acquired virtues? We argue for an answer consistent with and informed by Aquinas’s writings, although it goes beyond textual evidence, as any answer to this question must. There are two plausible, standard interpretations of Aquinas on this issue: the coexistence view and transformation view. After explaining the views, we present plausible reasons for and against each view. The evidence suggests, we argue, that the acquired virtues are both present and absent in the Christian. We then survey Aquinas’s account of virtual presence. Finally, we argue that the case of the presence of acquired virtues in the Christian is a good candidate for virtual presence.