“How can human society form and raise up virtuous people?” asks Barton Gingerich in this week’s Acton Commentary. As Gingerich notes, Russell Kirk explored this perennial question in a 1982 essay titled, “Virtue: Can It Be Taught?”
Kirk defined virtues as “the qualities of full humanity: strength, courage, capacity, worth, manliness, moral excellence,” particularly qualities of “moral goodness: the practice of moral duties and the conformity of life to the moral law; uprightness; rectitude.” Despite modern attempts to supplant vigorous, active “virtue” with passive “integrity,” people “possessed of an energetic virtue” are still needed, particularly in more turbulent times.
Can such a thing be taught? Can virtuous citizens be formed by tutoring and other rational forms of education?
The full text of the essay can be found here.