Christian Ethics and Applied Ethics

Ethical Perspectives 1 (1):22-26 (1994)
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Abstract

I thought it useful, in responding to the paper written by J.A. Selling, to look at the relation between fundamental and applied ethics and between faith, ethics and science. Not so much because I do not share his opinion — I agree with the content of his paper — nor to limit the reflection to the general ethical foundation, but because the meaning and range of the term ‘Christian ethics’, as it relates to applied ethics, is anything but evident. This is particularly true for ethical judgments within those social sectors where religion no longer plays a commonly accepted role as a public source of legitimation. Does not the communis opinio hold that religious traditions have nothing to contribute to ethics, and certainly to applied ethics, that cannot be known and confirmed from human reason? Therefore, within a pluralistic society, reference to religious arguments in ethical reflection seems more hindersome than helpful when we seek a pragmatic consensus on rational, nonconfessional grounds, and strive towards a common value judgment on matters where religions are not competent.I believe that there are many positive arguments to support this communis opinio. I expect they will be used in our further discussion. When I continue to plead for a countercultural link between the Christian worldview and applied ethics, I do so to clarify the meaning of our position as a Centre. I believe that we must avoid understanding our position only as a sociological or political arrangement. We would do better to wonder whether there is any inherent link between Christianity and applied ethics, and if so, where this link lies. If there is no link, our function is reduced to a sociopolitical arrangement, which I personally would find regrettable

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