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Russell Kirk: Where does virtue come from?

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“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.

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Joe Carter Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).