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Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics

Volume 28, Issue 2, Fall/Winter 2008

James P. Gubbins
Pages 181-203
DOI: 10.5840/jsce200828210

Positive Psychology
Friend or Foe of Religious Virtue Ethics?

THIS ESSAY OUTLINES THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN RELIGIOUS VIRTUE ethics and positive psychology—a field that has grown exponentially since its inauguration in 1998 by Martin Seligman, then president of the American Psychological Association. This essay shows how positive psychology, through its comprehensive classification of human virtues in Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification, opens the possibility of dialogue between empirical psychology and religious virtue ethics; considers some internal and external challenges to positive psychology's approach; and examines one of positive psychology's virtues, the virtue of humanity, and indicates how a Thomistic religious virtue ethics presents a more compelling account of this virtue. The conclusion provides a brief answer to the question, Is positive psychology friend or foe?

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