The historical problem about the origins of the language of rights derives its importance from the conceptual problem: of "two fundamentally different ways of thinking about justice," which is basic? Is justice unitary or plural? This in turn opens up a problem about the moral status of human nature. A narrative of the origins of "rights" is an account of how and when a plural concept of justice comes to the fore, and will be based on the occurrence of definite (...) speech-forms—the occurrence of the plural noun in the sense of "legal properties." The history of this development is currently held to begin with the twelfth-century canonists. Later significant thresholds may be found in the fourteenth, sixteenth, and eighteenth centuries. Wolterstorff's attempt to find the implicit recognition of rights in the Scriptures depends very heavily on what he takes to be implied rather than on what is stated, and at best can establish a pre- history of rights-language. (shrink)
The object of Theological Ethics as presented by Hans Ulrich is immediately the content of the experience of God; reflectively it is God himself turned towards us; doubly reflected on, it is the inversion of our understanding of the good or conversion. The concept of an object may be traced to the discussion of the sciences from Schleiermacher to Barth. Three questions are put to it: (i) Does it assimilate the study too much to descriptive reason, as opposed to practical (...) reason? (ii) Does it narrow the study's range of interests so as to exclude the created world? (iii) Does it result in an idealised `creaturely man', wholly determined by his end and dissociated from the empirical man who may confront us as a neighbour? (shrink)
Sin has infinite variety, but is also a unified phenomenon. As a way of displaying both these aspects, the vice-lists of the New Testament explore patterns by which sin unfolds in a sequence of diverse but connected forms. The eschatological vice-list of 2 Timothy 3 treats this as an unfolding of the sin of pride from an immanent form to a socially concrete one. Exploring this train of thought in further detail, we find room within the progress of pride for (...) the love of money and the love of war. (shrink)
The Lord's Prayer is at the centre of the Sermon on the Mount in a section on restraint in religious performance. The flanking sections treat of the opposition of lower and higher law, and of simplicity of agency, themes reflected in the central section in the opposition of public and secret. The Lord's Prayer inducts the worshipper into the elementary relations of the universe: the Father, the source of intelligible governance of the universe; the community of human beings created to (...) live and act within the world; the temptation which is the final test of the enterprise of human living. (shrink)
Ethics is distinguished as a field of study within the realm of organised knowledge which interprets moral experience. Christian ethics assumes this interpretation into the hermeneutic framework of Christian theology in relation to a hope for the renewal and recovery of human agency. Its theme is moral thinking in general, which it understands within the framework of faith. It is dependent on philosophical ethics, but presumes and aims at more. The concepts handled by theological ethics include analytic categories coined to (...) describe the operations of moral thought itself, concepts that name qualities and performances of universal importance, and concepts belonging both to dogmatics and ethics, e.g. ‘sin’. It is concerned to describe the ‘architecture’ of life in the Spirit: World, the framework of meaning, Self, the agent, Time, the immediate future open to action. It resists pressure for theoretical economy in favour of unipolar theories. Its tasks include critical engagement with issues of policy or practice in wider discussion, engagement with particular moral dilemmas, the exploration of special fields, such as bioethics, marriage, economics, critical conceptual interaction with philosophy, interaction with biblical exegesis, exposition of texts from the tradition of theological ethics, and comparative intertraditional enquiry. (shrink)
An examination and defence of the concept of personality, long central to Western moral culture but now increasingly under attack. Robert Spaemann tackles urgent practical questions, such as our treatment of the severely disabled human and the moral status of intelligent non-human animals.
Leading political theologian Oliver O'Donovan here takes a fresh look at some traditional moral arguments about war. Modern Christians differ widely on this issue. A few hold that absolute pacifism is the only viable Christian position, others subscribe in various ways to concepts of 'just war' developed out of a Western tradition that arose from the legacies of Augustine and Aquinas, while others still adopt more pragmatically realist postures. Professor O'Donovan re-examines questions of contemporary urgency including the use of biological (...) and nuclear weapons, military intervention, economic sanctions, war crimes trials and the roles of the Geneva Convention, international conventions and the UN. His enquiry opens with a challenging dedication to the new Archbishop of Canterbury and proceeds to shed new light on vital topics with which the Archbishop and others will be very directly engaged. It should be read by anyone concerned with the ethics of warfare. (shrink)