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American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 96, Issue 2, Spring 2022

Contemporary Thomistic Psychology

Timothy Pawl, Sarah Schnitker
Pages 215-233

Christian Moral Wisdom, Character Formation, and Contemporary Psychology

Consider the advice for growth in virtue from the Christian Moral Wisdom tradition and contemporary psychology. What is the relation between the outputs of these sources? We present some of the common moral wisdom from the Christian tradition, spelling out the nuance and justification given for the suggestions. We next canvas contemporary psychological findings to discover the evidential relation they bear toward such advice. Although numerous psychological studies might be provided as evidence, we have chosen literatures we believe are most relevant, primarily from personality, social, and positive psychology. Is current evidence set against these old exhortations? Moreover, if contemporary psychology does support Christian Moral Wisdom, does it support it for the same reasons as given by the proponents of Christian Moral Wisdom? We conclude that contemporary psychology does generally support ancient Christian Moral Wisdom in the instances we discuss but with some important caveats or conditions.