Naturalism, Formalism, and Supernaturalism: Moral Epistemology and Comparative Ethics

Journal of Religious Ethics 27 (3):477 - 506 (1999)


If the much discussed fragmentation of the West means that we can seldom hold constructive moral conversations with our near neighbors, why imagine that comparative ethics is feasible as a critical enterprise with a coherent method? How, more specifically, do we understand the relative merits of naturalism, formalism, and supernaturalism as ethical orientations? The author addresses these questions first by examining the meaning of the quoted terms, then by criticizing the inordinate optimism of most naturalisms and formalisms. The article ends by briefly elaborating and defending a supernaturalist conception of Christian love. As a fruit of the Spirit, agape leaves one neither heteronomous nor autonomous, but holy. Such holiness can move one to appreciate, judiciously, cultures different from one's own

Download options


    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 72,743

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library


Added to PP

30 (#385,862)

6 months
1 (#387,390)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

New Directions in Ethics: Naturalisms, Reasons and Virtue. [REVIEW]Soran Reader - 2000 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 3 (4):341-364.
Is a “Christian Naturalism” Possible?: Exploring the Boundaries of a Tradition.Jerome A. Stone - 2011 - American Journal of Theology and Philosophy 32 (3):205 - 220.
Naturalism in Question.Mario De Caro & David Macarthur (eds.) - 2004 - Harvard University Press.
Why Naturalism?David Copp - 2003 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 6 (2):179-200.