Here is a summary of a comprehensive article on the modern confusion between Values and Virtues. It is important to know that Virtues fit into a multi-cultural framework. If we can see the error of our language and the use of the terms virtue and value we may make an important distinction that points to morality and a moral life shared by a greater collective whole versus the individualize subjective view on values as it pertains to each person.

  • Language, as we all know, is extremely important: it is how we communicate truth, it is one of the ways we communicate love, it is how we communicate many of the most important things in our lives. Without language, perhaps thought itself is unthinkable.
  • Much of our learning and education is to learn what words mean and the power of words as everyone, for good or ill, has learned through history, is an extremely important power to command. But what has happened in the modern age is that many of our key terms have been either diffused or confused.
  • If you look in an Oxford English dictionary, under the term ‘values,' you will discover that it was not used as a moral term until later in the 19th century. It is very recent. Prior to that, people didn't speak about values as moral language. ‘Values' was a language restricted to economics, and when you think about it, the value of something is how much you pay for something, what is its cost.
  • The idea of an objective moral principle has been reduced to a matter of personal choice and aesthetics. The German philosopher Nietzsche saw all this last century but in all disciplines and at all levels (judges in law, ethics professors in medicine, university professors in a host of disciplines, politicians in all parties and, alas, religious leaders in all traditions) have not realized this point and continue to speak about “values” when they often seem to be discussing something they believe is true.
  • “language of values” without realizing that this language is the enemy of the very “truth” such speaker's believed themselves to be promoting.
  • Here is what he said, “values language is an obscuring language for morality, used when the idea of purpose has been destroyed. And that is why it is so widespread in North America.”
  • Virtue is similar in that how we are (our first natures) in relation to the virtues (understood, described by stories, taught and lived by practice) is personal; but unlike “values” the virtues are also shared and cannot be simply chosen or ignored at will.
  • All the virtues are shared as objectively true but they are personal in how they apply to us as persons.
  • These [the Cardinal virtues] are also known as the ‘natural' virtues (which are perceived by natural reason), and these [the Theological virtues] are called ‘supernatural' (or “inspired” virtues given by revelation).
  • What wisdom means is different, richer, fuller, than what is natural. What temperance or moderation perceives is different, and courage as well. All these cardinal virtues have been transformed, ultimately, by Christ
  • But please note, the natural virtues are much closer to the supernatural virtues than either are to any category of “values.”
  • virtues fit within a multi-cultural framework.
  • Values is “an obscuring language for morality, used when the idea of purpose has been destroyed; and that's why it is so wide-spread in North America.”
  • values merely makes fragmentation worse.
  • We don't know. We have had our moral language stripped from us in a serious way — it has been replaced by this ‘weasel language' of values, and we all use it. If I used it after five universities, you can bet everyone is using it. And this language of “values” is being used everywhere.
  • The modern view is, in essence, that “I don't conform myself to the truth, I make the truth by willing it.” I just choose my “values” and there is no truth out there.
  • Yes, these virtues ought to be fully developed in light of the Gospel of Jesus, but, as a social starting point, the virtues provide a firm guide for action that allows engagement with other “truth claims” including those of Jesus.
  • But when “truth” itself has been relativized into subjective “values” then the entire project of moral search and education becomes compromised at its root and Christianity becomes, through detachment from the natural order, increasingly Gnostic.
  • So if we have an uncomfortable feeling about the direction morals are going in our time, we have got to get beyond mere feelings and subjective “values”, towards a richer language for virtue and culture.
  • The form of all the virtues is love. Love is the jelly mould of all virtuous conduct. If you learn to love well, you will learn to live well. So all of the virtues, in a sense, flow out of this deepening of our understanding and our practice of caritas.
  • Virtue is right conduct. The virtuous person is the person who lives well. There are also specific virtues as well.

Sourcehttp://www.catholiceducation.org/en/culture/catholic-contributions/values-and-virtues-a-modern-confusion.html