Journal of Religious Ethics 2 (1):119 - 141 (1974)

In seeking to determine what place, if any, the concept of moral rights can and/or should have in theological ethics, it is first necessary to clarify the nature of the concept. On this task contemporary moral philosophy is found to be especially helpful. It is then suggested that from a theological standpoint an appeal to moral rights might be justified by reference to (1) the moral fabric of persons under God, (2) the worth of persons as ends, and (3) the inclusiveness of the moral community. The author claims that the concept of moral rights is compatible with belief in a sovereign God who promises his steadfast love, and that it need not imply any "natural" ethic in competition with theological ethics. Finally, the affirmation of moral rights is found to be highly appropriate to an emphasis upon love toward other persons.
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