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religion and liberalism revisited
1. The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 21
Eric Gregory Augustine and Arendt on Love: New Dimensions in the Religion and Liberalism Debates
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This paper illustrates the need for a more integrated theoretical account of two large but typically isolated subjects in twentieth century Augustine studies: love and the ambiguous relation of Augustinianism to liberalism. The paper is divided into three parts. First, by aligning Augustinian caritas with a feminist "ethic of care," it presents a morally robust ethics of liberalism that differs from both liberal-realist and antiliberal extrapolations of the Augustinian tradition. Second, and most extensively, it presents Hannah Arendt's provocative reading of Augustine that issues both "Kantian" and "Nietzschean" challenges to a political ethic that moves beyond liberal reciprocity and relates love for neighbor to love for God. Finally, and more tentatively, it argues that Augustine's much maligned categories of "use" and "enjoyment" should be redeemed by those who defend a version of Augustinian liberalism that does not sentimentalize or privatize love.
critiques and new directions in catholic moral theology
2. The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 21
Aline H. Kalbian The Catholic Church's Public Confession: Theological and Ethical Implications
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The Catholic Church, as part of the year 2000 Jubilee celebrations, issued a prayer of confession for sins committed in the past. Most notable was the confession for "actions that may have caused suffering to the people of Israel." In this paper I identify two prominent metaphors in the magisterial literature associated with this act of contrition—the metaphor of Church as mother, and the metaphor of repentance as purification of memory. I analyze these metaphors and place them in the context of important conversations about the Catholic Church and the Holocaust, and about collective responsibility and repentance.
3. The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 21
William McDonough Alasdair MacIntyre as Help for Rethinking Catholic Natural Law Estimates of Same-Sex Life Partnerships
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Christian ethics struggles to articulate a method for thinking about homosexuality and the sexual acts of same-sex oriented persons. In 1988, Hanigan suggested a promising "social import" approach and then judged homosexual acts deficient. MacIntyre's Dependent Rational Animals (1999) articulates a fuller social import approach to morality. Although he does not address homosexuality, MacIntyre rejects narrow understandings of family and of "disinterested friendship": we need "communal relations that engage our affections" to grow in "the virtues of acknowledged dependence." How do gay people grow in these virtues? What if Hanigan got the method right, but the evaluation wrong?
4. The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 21
Todd David Whitmore John Paul II, Michael Novak, and the Differences Between Them
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Unnamed sources have claimed that Michael Novak is "credited with considerable input" into John Paul II's encyclical, Centesimus annus, such that the former's thought "is said to be reflected in" the document. However, while John Paul II affirms economic rights, Novak rejects them. In addition, the Pope critiques the gap between rich and poor and the consumerism that drives it; Novak finds them to be morally irrelevant. Following Catholic teaching before him, John Paul places restrictions on the accumulation of private property for one's own use, while Novak identifies no such limits. Finally, while the Pope rejects the affirmation of any one system as a form of "ideology," Novak argues, "We are all capitalists now, even the Pope." Such dramatic differences suggest that the claim that Novak has influenced John Paul's thought is unfounded and that the former's position may even be one of dissent.
5. The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 21
Christopher Steck Tragedy and the Ethics of Hans Urs von Balthasar
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The goodness in many people's lives is often obscured by the limitations and brokenness which mark those same lives. The saint as moral icon, in which the moral beauty of the individual is clearly visible to all, cannot be the exclusive paradigm of Christian holiness. The kind of obscurity effected by limitation and human imperfection can be described as tragic—events and circumstances beyond the agent's control seem to determine the agent's moral fate. I argue that von Balthasar's theological aesthetics helps illuminate the tragic features of Christ's own life and can, in turn, help us understand the tragic dimension present in varying degrees in every Christian life. In tragic situations, where the brokenness and sin of the human condition threaten to undermine human love, the Christian's moral response, like Christ's own, will be inspired more by a hopeful fidelity to God's call than by a confident expectation of the fruitfulness of her love.
historical studies in christian ethics
6. The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 21
Jennifer A. Herdt Divine Compassion and the Mystification of Power: The Latitudinarian Divines in the Secularization of Moral Thought
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William Placher and others have charged seventeenth-century theologians with "domesticating" divine transcendence, with fostering an understanding of God that was clear and comprehensible, but unattractive, unpersuasive, and easily undermined by secular thought. This essay tests that claim by analyzing the discourse of divine compassion which became prominent among post-Restoration Anglican divines. While the second generation of latitudinarians do exemplify the trends Placher traces, the first generation of latitudinarians, notably Cambridge Platonist Benjamin Whichcote, succeeds in finding a way to affirm divine compassion without undermining divine transcendence. Moreover, Whichcote argues that an insistence on divine incomprehensibility fosters a voluntaristic conception of divine power and—contrary to Placher—undermines efforts to promote transformative justice in human society. The present case study suggests that we must reconsider our modes of articulating divine transcendence.
7. The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 21
Jean Porter Natural Equality: Freedom, Authority and Obedience in Two Medieval Thinkers
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The middle ages is commonly seen as an age of inequality, when society was structured by fixed social hierarchies. However, beginning in the late eleventh century and continuing through the thirteenth century, widespread economic and cultural changes, together with a revival of spiritual intensity and widespread concern for religious reforms, transformed the dominant structures of Western European society. These changes did not immediately transform Europe into an egalitarian society, but they did give new saliency to ancient Christian ideals of equality, particularly among scholastic theologians and canon lawyers of the period. In this paper, I focus on the virtue of obedience and its limits as one entrée into the scholastic concept of natural equality, further restricting myself to a comparison of Bonaventure and Aquinas on this topic. I will argue that while both theologians value the virtue of obedience highly, both also place clear limits on the obligation of obedience, limits which point beyond themselves (explicitly, in Aquinas' case, but clearly in Bonaventure's case) to a norm of natural equality which constrains the exercise of authority.
judaism and bioethics
8. The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 21
Elliot N. Dorff Is There a Unique Jewish Ethics?: The Role of Law in Jewish Bioethics
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9. The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 21
Aaron L. Mackler Is There a Unique Jewish Bioethics of Human Reproduction?
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10. The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 21
Laurie Zoloth Nursing Fathers and Nursing Mothers: Notes toward a Distinctive Jewish View of Reproductive Ethics
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ethics in international context
11. The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 21
Jack Hill Doing Ethics in the Pacific Islands: Interpreting Moral Dimensions of Prose Narrative
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Given the current interest in globalization, this paper seeks to identify and explicate some of the distinctive moral perspectives of Pacific Islanders. Drawing on the narrative approach of Nussbaum, within a broader hermeneutical perspective, the author seeks to interpret moral orientations in legends from Fiji and the Cook Islands. It is argued that these orientations provide a fresh understanding of contemporary political events and social relations in the islands. The paper concludes by discussing issues raised by this type of narrative ethical analysis for the field of comparative religious ethics.
12. The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 21
R. Neville Richardson On Keeping Theological Ethics Theological in Africa: The Quest for a (Southern) African Theological Ethics
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What is the direction of South African theological ethics as that country moves out of the apartheid era into a new democratic future? Following its struggle against apartheid, how will theology respond to the new challenge of making clear its distinctive stance in a democratic, multi-faith society with a secular constitution? A danger, similar to that previously discussed in the United States, exists in South Africa as theology evolves from a mode of resistance to that of compliance and accommodation, especially under the guise of "nation-building." The essay plots a trajectory by means of a consideration of four works representing nonracial liberationist theology which emerged at key points in the past fifteen years—the Kairos Document (1985), and works by Albert Nolan (1988), Charles Villla-Vicencio (1992), and James Cochrane (1999). For all their contextual sensitivity and strength, these works appear to offer little of a distinctively theological nature, and little of Christian substance to church and society. The way lies open for the development of an African Christian ethics.
13. The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 21
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