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The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics

Volume 19, 1999

Don Browning
Pages 133-143
DOI: 10.5840/asce1999198

The Challenge and Limits of Psychology to Theological Ethics

This article summarizes the claims of Owen Flanagan that psychology can make important criticisms of and viable contributions to both religious and philosophical ethics. Flanagan insists that both fields of ethics should pass the test of what he calls the Principle of Minimal Psychological Realism (PMPR). However, in order for Flanagan to escape naïve naturalism, his PMPR test should be used within a hermeneutic philosophy such as that of Paul Ricoeur. Ricoeur's concepts of "diagnosis" and "distanciation" can help the moral theologian find a limited but important role for PMPR.