Cover of Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics
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preface
1. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 2
Scott R. Paeth, Kevin Carnahan Preface
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presidential address
2. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 2
Jennifer A. Herdt Of Wild Beasts and Bloodhounds: John Locke and Frederick Douglass on the Forfeiture of Humanity
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The doctrine of the image of God is often regarded as grounding human dignity in something permanent and unchanging that transcends our attitudes and behaviors. Yet we persistently encounter the argument that particular human individuals or groups have acted so as to forfeit their moral standing as fellow humans. They are bestialized, categorized as non-human animals, lifting ordinary restraints on punishment. I examine the logic of this argument in John Locke, Thomas Aquinas, and contemporary felony disenfranchisement, showing how it involves slippage between the unobjectionable notion that specific rights may in particular circumstances be forfeited, and the deeply troubling claim that one’s moral standing as human can as such be forfeited. I argue that an apparently similar rhetoric of dehumanization employed by Frederick Douglass, in contrast, refrains from stripping the opponent of moral considerability.
symposium: questioning the human
3. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 2
Grace Y. Kao Symposium: Questioning the Human
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4. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 2
John Bowlin Status, Ideal, and Calling: Languages of the Human
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5. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 2
Victor Carmona The Case of America’s Modern-Day Metics
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6. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 2
Jonathan Tran Only Humans Get Dehumanized
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7. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 2
Andrea C. White Blackness as Counterhumanist Possibility
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8. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 2
Jonathan Tran Jonathan Tran’s Response to John Bowlin
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9. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 2
John Bowlin John Bowlin’s Response to Andrea C. White
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10. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 2
Andrea C. White Andrea C. White’s Response to Victor Carmona
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11. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 2
Victor Carmona Victor Carmona’s Response to Jonathan Tran
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selected essays
12. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 2
Kate Ward Human and Alienating Work: What Sex Worker Advocates Can Teach Catholic Social Thought
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In Catholic social thought (CST), work that is exploitative, immoral, or hopelessly monotonous can be labeled alienating: its performance makes the worker a stranger to her own, God-given human nature. CST traditionally understands sex work, which directs the human sexual faculties to ends other than the unitive and procreative, as a paradigmatic example of alienating work, and this paper will not disagree. Instead, I will show how accepting sex worker advocates’ claim that “sex work is work” reveals that while sex work is indeed alienating by CST’s standards, many forms of paid work available today are alienating in similar ways. Listening to sex worker advocates helps CST strengthen its critique of alienating work while acknowledging sex workers’ moral agency.
13. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 2
John P. Burgess Blessing as the Ground of Morality: Pavel Florensky and Political Resistance
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This essay argues that Pavel Florensky (1882–1937), one of Russia’s most creative religious philosophers, makes an important contribution to Christian social ethics by positing “blessing” as a central moral act. Drawing on Orthodox liturgical practices of blessing, Florensky redescribes reality; it is filled with God’s energies. Especially in letters from the gulag, after his arrest in 1933 for “counter-revolutionary” activity, Florensky calls forth the sacramental mystery of the natural world around the camps and of each person to whom he writes. In attending to them in their concrete particularity, he offers resistance to a totalitarian regime that would reduce them to raw, exploitable material.
14. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 2
Nelly Wamaitha The False Promise of Progress: Human Rights and the Legitimation of Inequality
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Modernity’s social betterment programs such as human rights depend upon a narrative of progress. Progress sustains the ideology that the problems of the non-Western and non-white world are caused by a lagging behind in time that prevents the embrace of the norms that deliver social progress and not by unjust structures of global political and economic power. Progress frames the problem of inequality as cultural rather than political. This occlusion of power means that human rights do not attempt to address important power differences between the Global North and the Global South. Because human rights discourse is undergirded by progress, material human rights frames and institutions actually prevent radical change and reproduce imperial domination. Human rights, therefore, cannot deliver on their promise of equality. This promise must instead be entrusted to an eschatological hope that rejects progress and is disruptive of ongoing oppressive power arrangements.
15. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 2
Hille Haker, William Schweiker, Perry Hamalis, Myriam Renaud The Ethics of Radical Life Extension: Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox Christian, and Global Ethic Perspectives
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Biomedical technologies capable of sharply reducing or ending human aging, “radical life extension” (RLE), call for a Christian response. The authors featured in this article offer some preliminary thoughts. Common themes include: What kind of life counts as a “good life;” the limits, if any, of human freedom; the consequences of extended life on the human species and on the Earth; the meaning and value of finite and vulnerable embodied life; the experience of time; anthropological self-understanding; and human dignity. Notably, all four authors share serious concerns about RLE’s potential effects.
16. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 2
Elizabeth Sweeny Block Christian Moral Freedom and the Transgender Person
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A false sense of freedom is often blamed for gender nonconformity. Transgender and genderqueer persons are accused of manipulating their bodies according to their will and due to a mistaken sense of freedom. This paper challenges this assumption and suggests that it is cisgender persons who ought to adopt a posture of genuine Christian moral freedom, which requires taking risks, seeing that new possibilities of life exist, and recognizing truth in the experiences and bodies of transgender persons. The paper begins by surveying recent theological scholarship on gender fluidity and gender transitions, which offers robust resources but does not address moral freedom, and Catholic magisterial responses to “gender ideology,” which hinge on the assumption that radical autonomy is to blame. The paper then draws on James Gustafson’s rich description of Christian freedom, which he pairs with hope, to suggest that cisgender persons should adopt the posture of Christian freedom that transgender and genderqueer persons already live.
17. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 2
Ebenezer Akesseh Otherness With(Out) Boundaries: Implications of Self-Versus-Other in the Search for Common Ground on the Human
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Epistemic questions about what constitutes the “human” are intrinsically tied to discussions of “identity” and the dynamic tensions between universal and relative constructions of the “self” versus the “other.” In this paper, putting the writings of Pope Francis on migration in conversation with Paul Ricoeur’s concept of solicitude, which takes into account the “suffering other,” and “nameless” or “anonymous” faces, and Kristin Heyer’s discussion of civic kinship with its emphasis on embracing human difference, I examine the relations between “identity,” “self” and “otherness,” and assess their implications for discussions of solidarity.
18. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 2
Neil Arner Apprehending “The Human”: Theological Anthropology and the Crisis of Credibility in the Social Sciences
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I specify both challenges and opportunities for integrating social scientific and theological accounts of “the human.” I first show that the interests of many theological ethicists lead them to engage social scientific studies. I then demonstrate that numerous social scientists caution against relying on their publications about the human since these results are of questionable generality and veracity. I next identify some research practices that are recommended by social scientists for restoring the credibility of their publication record. I also illustrate how theological ethicists can benefit from adopting these practices in their quest to provide a general and true account of the human. I conclude that theological anthropology is a rich locus for interdisciplinary engagement, though lasting work on this topic requires sacrificial commitment to the truth, honest willingness to scrutinize one’s sources, and patient attention to particularities.
book review
19. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 2
Brian Hamilton God and Community Organizing: A Covenantal Approach
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20. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 41 > Issue: 2
Kate Ward Moral Injury and the Promise of Virtue
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