Are faith, hope, and love essentially theological virtues, and if so can they be accepted in contexts that reject the theological presuppositions? Alternatively, can faith, hope, and love be accounted for independently of theological presuppositions, and if so are have they any role to play in the good life? In this Green Paper, we present a number of problems that will need to be addressed by any answers to these general questions.
The Ethics of Powerlessness research team at the University of Essex has successfully helped amend the draft scope of service delivery guidelines, ‘End of Life Guide: Delivery of Adult Services For People in the Last Year of Life’. The guidelines are being developed by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence
In this Green Paper we shall provide an overview of the history of the theology of faith, hope, and love, with specific emphasis on their reception as virtues. As we shall see, the history of these terms has seen marked differences in the way in which each of the three has been understood; the understanding of concept of virtue itself; the understanding of what agency consists in; and the level of involvement of the agent in the acquisition and exercise of the three.
In what follows we shall focus on a number major figures in the history of theology, at times using them as points of departure to discuss the context in which their thinking emerged. We shall begin by discussing the locus classicus of faith, hope, and love within the theological tradition: St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. By examining Paul’s letter, we shall identify a number of questions with which to focus our discussion of St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, and Paul Tillich.
In this Green Paper we shall review recent studies on experiences of powerlessness in health care with specific interest in end-of-life care. Our aim is to bring into view the central features of experiences of powerlessness in end-of-life care contexts, as these experiences have been described in advanced research. In an appendix we list a number of questions we believe call for future research.