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1. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 29 > Issue: 1
Preface
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selected essays
2. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 29 > Issue: 1
Gloria Albrecht Detroit: Still the "Other" America
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THIS ESSAY PRESENTS A PARTICULAR HISTORY OF DETROIT, ONE THAT, BY analyzing the sites and uses of unshared social power, provides an ethical analysis of the processes by which Detroit has become the poorest big city in the United States. Of necessity this story must weave together a variety of elements: economic forces and the theories that justify them, public policies and the politics that underlie them, white racism, sexism, and the spirit of resistance that found its voice in the streets, in radical philosophic and economic theories, in union activism, and in some Christian churches. In this history can be heard the voices of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, the liberal cry for civil rights, and the radical demand for workers' rights. Today, as these same destructive economic and political choices reach into the homes of Detroit's and other cities' white suburbanites, these Detroit voices prophetically challenge business as usual.
3. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 29 > Issue: 1
Christine Firer Hinze Reconsidering Little Rock: Hannah Arendt, Martin Luther King Jr., and Catholic Social Thought on Children and Families in the Struggle for Justice
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TO ADDRESS THE ROLE OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES IN STRUGGLES FOR justice, we must bear in mind not "family" in the abstract but particular families in particular times and places. The decisions and actions of particular families—certain African American and white families with children of high school age in Little Rock, Arkansas, during the academic years 1957 and 1958—prompted the controversy I reconsider here, between the German-born political philosopher Hannah Arendt and African American participants and leaders in the southern civil rights movement, most famously represented by Martin Luther King Jr.
4. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 29 > Issue: 1
Brett Wilmot Scriptural Reasoning and the Problem of Metaphysics: Insights for Argument in Liberal Democracy
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THIS ESSAY PRESENTS AN EXTENDED MEDITATION ON THE DEVELOPING practice of scriptural reasoning insofar as it may contribute to our thinking about political discourse in the context of late-modern liberal democracies. Concerns are raised about the account of argument and practical reason expressed by practitioners of scriptural reasoning, particularly with respect to an antimetaphysical bias. Following Franklin Gamwell, I suggest that a coherent theoretical account of democracy should be open to the critical assessment of metaphysical claims. I conclude that scriptural reasoning does provide a helpful resource for thinking about argument across religious traditions in a democratic context but requires a clearer position on metaphysics to make a truly distinctive contribution to reforming our understanding of democratic politics in the context of religious pluralism.
5. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 29 > Issue: 1
C. Melissa Snarr Waging Religious Ethics: Living Wages and Framing Public Religious Ethics
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IN THE PAST DECADE, RELIGIOUS ACTIVISTS HELPED PASS LIVING WAGE legislation in 177 municipalities across the United States. Drawing on concepts from social movement theory, this essay analyzes the framing success of these religious actors, particularly their mediation of theological inheritances, language, and rituals for broader political audiences. Much of the success of religious actors comes from their universalizing of ethical tropes such as "worker dignity" that resonate with dominant United States' culture while simultaneously not disrupting neoclassical economic ideals (such as independence from the welfare state). This approach entails significant ideological risks, for example, promoting independence from government as an ultimate value, but this framing strategy does introduce, at minimum, an effective triage mechanism in the U.S. capitalist economy and, optimally, a pathway for citizen economic education that funds future transformative politics. The essay concludes with suggestions for future framing for the movement.
6. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 29 > Issue: 1
Christine Gudorf Heroes, Suicides, and Moral Discernment
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THIS ESSAY PROPOSES THAT EVERYDAY REFERENCES TO HEROES AND suicides share a lack of critical common sense, and that ethicists should initiate critical discourse on these issues to lift the level of popular reflection. The absence of critical discourse serves the interests of powerful social groups and organizations to the disadvantage of other social groups. The absence of critical discourse is further supported by broad social suspicion of decision making by ordinary individuals resulting in social preference for trusting elites, even when the arguments supporting such preferences are recognized as flawed or untrue.
7. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 29 > Issue: 1
Patrick T. McCormick Saving "Citizen" Ryan: Supporting a Just War or Just Supporting the Troops?
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THE JUST WAR THEORY OBLIGES CITIZENS OF A DEMOCRACY TO OPPOSE war unless it is being waged as a last resort and their nation possesses a just cause, the right intent, legitimate authority, and the probability of success without inflicting disproportionate harm. However, several contemporary Hollywood combat films suggest that the only real moral duties in wartime belong to soldiers, who are to defend and protect their comrades in arms. At the same time, by consistently presenting the obligation to "support the troops" as the public's principal wartime duty and as the final answer to any criticism of the war, proponents of the Bush administration's war in Iraq have exported this "warrior's ethic" home from the battlefield and substituted it for the just war theory. As a result, citizens are no longer expected to critique their government's call to arms but are instead expected to exhibit loyalty to the troops by supporting the war.
8. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 29 > Issue: 1
Mark Popovsky Coping with Multiple Uncertainties: A Jewish Perspective on Genetic Testing for Breast Cancer and Prophylactic Interventions
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THIS ESSAY APPLIES CONCEPTS AND VALUE JUDGMENTS FROM WITHIN the Jewish tradition to the range of questions raised by genetic testing for BRCA1/2 mutations as well as possible prophylactic interventions to prevent breast cancer; in so doing, it models a Jewish methodology for approaching contemporary situations through the lens of classical Judaism. It notes the Jewish tradition's robust skepticism about the value of partial knowledge and its repeated admonitions against predicting future events based on incomplete data. The essay also weighs Jewish tradition's strong imperative to aggressively pursue good health against Judaism's equally strong reluctance to attempt to predict future events based on partial data. This essay offers few definitive conclusions about Jewish law; instead, it shows that Jewish tradition can tolerate and support several different choices simultaneously. Jewish sources can guide individuals through the decision-making process without prescribing specific behaviors.
9. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 29 > Issue: 1
Richard O. Randolph Human Health and Environmental Health Are Interdependent: Removing an Unnatural Partition within Christian Bioethics
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ALTHOUGH THE TERM "BIOETHICS" LITERALLY MEANS "LIFE ETHICS," there is a frequent differentiation of Christian bioethicists into those focusing on medical issues versus those focusing on environmental issues. Yet, many challenges to human and environmental health are interdependent, suggesting the need for greater collaboration. After exploring the historical trajectories that have led to these two distinct foci in Christian ethics, this essay will argue for a greater collaboration between the two specializations and make some suggestions concerning how collaboration may be facilitated. As an illustration of this thesis, I examine avian influenza as a case study.
10. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 29 > Issue: 1
M. Therese Lysaught Medicine as Friendship with God: Anointing the Sick as a Theological Hermeneutic
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A THEOLOGICAL BIOETHICS NEEDS, FIRST, A THEOLOGICAL POLITICS. THE thesis of this essay rests on the claim that the contours of a theological politics are found in the nature of sacramental practices. More specifically, a theological politics of medicine is found in the sacramental practice of anointing of the sick. Anointing provides a radically theological hermeneutic—a theologically robust vision for interpreting medicine that, if enacted, can powerfully make real God's work in the world. Such a vision is embodied in one particular twentieth-century exemplar—the organization called Partners In Health (PIH) and its cofounder, Paul Farmer. Farmer and PIH, I argue, live the theologic and theological politics of medicine embodied in the practice of anointing. What is more, they show—against those who would accuse such an approach of being naively idealistic—that such a theological politics is possible, powerful, and can even change the world.
11. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 29 > Issue: 1
Ki Joo Choi The Deliberative Practices of Aesthetic Experience: Reconsidering the Moral Functionality of Art
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THIS ESSAY PROPOSES A CONCEPTION OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN art and ethics that moves away from popular causative understandings. Turning to select themes treated in the work of the literary theorist Elaine Scarry, the moral and aesthetical theology of Jonathan Edwards, and finally the philosophical reflections of Marcia Muelder Eaton, a more positive theoretical account of the moral relevance of art and various aesthetic experiences emerge. Central to this account is the observation that art objects, specifically those objects that can be judged as beautiful, provoke a number of deliberative practices. These practices range from the solitary to the relational. Special emphasis on the latter practices provide the conceptual space to reflect more imaginatively about the significance of art for the building of political community and the task of Christian ethics more generally.
12. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 29 > Issue: 1
Elizabeth A. Barre Within Reason: The Epistemic Foundations of Catholic and Muslim Arguments for Political Liberalism
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THIS ESSAY ARGUES THAT JUDGMENTS ABOUT THE NATURE AND function of human reason play analogous (though not identical) roles in Catholic and Muslim arguments for political liberalism. Focusing on the works of John Courtney Murray and three contemporary Muslim reformers, I note three similarities. First, thinkers in both traditions argue that it is humankind's unique ability to reason about the moral law that constitutes our dignity and provides the foundation for the right to religious liberty. Second, this ability to reason is what allows us to provide the publicly accessible justifications that the liberal principle of reciprocity seems to require. Finally, all four authors argue that their attempts to reform or develop their traditions are dependent upon and required by the dictates of human reason.
book reviews
13. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 29 > Issue: 1
Ulrik B. Nissen From Human to Posthuman: Christian Theology and Technology in a Postmodern World
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14. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 29 > Issue: 1
Daniel Castelo Handbook of Latina/o Theologies
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15. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 29 > Issue: 1
Keith Soko Liberalism's Troubled Search for Equality: Religion and Cultural Bias in the Oregon Physician-Assisted Suicide Debates
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16. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 29 > Issue: 1
James M. Childs Lutheran Ethics at the Intersections of God's One World. LWF Studies
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17. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 29 > Issue: 1
Patrick McCormick Nature as Reason: A Thomistic Theory of Natural Law
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18. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 29 > Issue: 1
Eric Mount Child Poverty: Love, Justice, and Social Responsibility; Attending Children: A Doctor's Education
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19. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 29 > Issue: 1
Todd V. Cioffi Consenting to God and Nature: Toward a Theocentric, Naturalistic, Theological Ethics, Princeton Theological Monograph Series 55; Practices, Politics, and Performances: Toward a Communal Hermeneutic for Christian Ethics, Princeton Theological Monograph Series 57
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20. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 29 > Issue: 1
Nancy M. Rourke Defending Probabilism: The Moral Theology of Juan Caramuel; The Pinckaers Reader: Renewing Thomistic Moral Theology
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