Concern for virtue simmers within the public sphere, and it bubbles over on occasion. [...] Despite these occasional mentions, public discourse about virtue is muted. To abuse a recent parlour game, below is a graph of the rate of occurrence of the words "virtue" and "technology" in Google's Ngram Viewer, which plots frequency of words occurring in books over time. We see a rapid rise of technology in the last forty years against a two-century slide in virtue. [...] Somewhat similar results are had with "virtue" against "institutions," "policies," and "systems."
But is virtue still relevant today? For many people, talk of virtue brings to mind chastity belts and shining armor. I prefer definitions, however, that distance themselves from the moralizing.