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1. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1
Christine Gudorf Preface
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selected essays
2. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1
John R. Bowlin Tolerance among the Fathers
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HOPING TO ADVANCE OUR UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT TOLERANCE INvolves and unsettling our assumptions about its history, in this essay I take a backward glance at some of the discourse about the virtue that emerged among the first Christian apologists in the debates they carried on with their pagan critics. Along the way, several conclusions come into view: that tolerance regards the objectionable differences of those with whom we share some sort of society, that the question of social membership always precedes the question of tolerance, and that the logic of Augustine's largely ignored account of the virtue emerges against the backdrop of these findings from the second, third, and fourth centuries. Compel them in and then tolerate them: In some perverse way, this might make sense after all.
3. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1
Brett T. Wilmot Defending Democracy against Its "Cultured Despisers": A Critical Consideration of Some Recent Approaches
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J. JUDD OWEN AND JEFFREY STOUT SUGGEST THE NEED TO RETHINK OUR understanding of the normative commitments of liberal democracy in response to recent challenges from its "cultured despisers" (e.g., Stanley Fish, Alaisdair MacIntyre, Stanley Hauerwas, and John Milbank). In this essay I argue that Owen and Stout fail to redeem liberal democracy against these critics because they reject the possibility of constitutional neutrality with respect to an indeterminate plurality of religions. As a result, a religious test on citizenship is inevitable under any democratic constitution expressed in their terms, and this test lays liberal democracy open to the despisers' main line of attack. As an alternative, I offer a defense of constitutional neutrality that is based on the work of Franklin I. Gamwell, who has developed a compound conception of justice for this purpose. Gamwell systematically distinguishes between formative and substantive conceptions of justice and the role they play in a theory of constitutional democracy. On Gamwell's account, a democratic constitution expressed as a formative conception of justice will be neutral with respect to all substantive moral disagreement. As such, it can be consistently affirmed by the adherents of an indeterminate plurality of religions. This account of liberal democracy avoids a religious test on citizenship and therefore can overcome the core objection raised against it by its contemporary critics.
4. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1
Mary Hirschfeld Standard of Living and Economic Virtue: Forging a Link between St. Thomas Aquinas and the Twenty-First Century
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NEOCLASSICAL ECONOMICS IS INSTRUMENTAL IN CHARACTER, FOCUSING on the efficient realization of the sovereign desires of consumers. The emphasis on instrumental reasoning leaves little room for consideration of economic virtue. The tradition of Catholic social teaching has drawn on St. Thomas Aquinas for a framework that approaches economic problems through the lens of virtue. Thomas's thought, however, hinges on the socially determined standards of living of his day, which have no modern counterpart. The neglected consumer economist Hazel Kyrk (1886—1957) offers a theory of consumption that does center on the standard of living and thus offers us a bridge between Thomas's thought and our modern economic setting.
5. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1
Maria Antonaccio Asceticism and the Ethics of Consumption
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IN THIS ESSAY I PRESENT NEW RESOURCES FOR THINKING ABOUT THE RElation between asceticism and ethics. The aims of the essay are threefold. The first is to highlight the work of scholars who interpret asceticism within the wider context of theories of moral formation and education in order to call attention to the cultural dimensions of asceticism. The second is to deploy ascetic concepts and tropes to analyze contemporary debates over the ethics of consumption and to suggest that asceticism may have surprising descriptive and diagnostic power in a culture marked by a pervasive consumerism. The third and final aim of the essay is to draw some of the constructive implications of this analysis for the debate over consumption and for the adequacy of naturalist versus nonnaturalist approaches to ethics.
6. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1
Ulrik B. Nissen Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Ethics of Plenitude
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SINCE SEPTEMBER 11, 2001, THE DEBATE ON RELIGION AND POLITICS HAS attracted considerable attention. One of the problems in this discussion has been the challenge to find a common ground of discourse while maintaining the identity of diverse worldviews. In this essay I argue—from a Christian viewpoint—that a reformulated understanding of the secular, understood as saeculum, may serve as the source of a view of the plenitude of human reality that overcomes this tension. Drawing on the theologies of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and John Milbank, I argue that human reality is always partaking in divine reality, and as such there is no being apart from God. In the light of this view, I endorse a Christological affirmation of reality that enables us to move beyond an antagonism of secular and religious worldviews and ethics.
7. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1
Aristotle Papanikolaou Liberating Eros: Confession and Desire
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THE BASIC THESIS OF THIS ESSAY IS THAT CONFESSION—DEFINED AS ACTS of truth-telling about that which one most fears to speak—affects the landscape of one's emotions and desires. How such acts of confession affect emotions and desires depends on where and to whom such a confession is spoken. The kind of effect confession will have on emotions and desires is determined, in part, by the identity of the listener (or the absence of one). Thus, the listener is not neutral in such acts of confession but assumes, de facto, a symbolic or iconic mediating role. I explore this relationship between confession and desire through an analysis of the Sacrament of Confession and in conversation with Dionysius the Areopagite, Maximus the Confessor, Charles Taylor, and Martha Nussbaum. I suggest an alternative understanding of the Sacrament of Confession that defines the Sacrament not in juridical terms but as an event whose purpose is to increase one's desire for God. Although I affirm the constitutive role of language and interpretation on desires and emotions, I argue that Taylor and Nussbaum give insufficient attention to how desire affects interpretation and to how the particular iconic role of the listener affects how confession affects emotions and desires.
8. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1
Jeffrey H. Burack Jewish Reflections on Genetic Enhancement
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WHAT COULD BE WRONG WITH SEEKING TO RESHAPE OURSELVES IN WAYS that we genuinely value? Jewish textual and cultural perspectives may add clarity and substance to the wider secular discussion of using genetic technologies for human enhancement. Judaism does not share the naturalism of Anglo-American bioethics; instead, it emphasizes covenantal responsibility for co-creation and stewardship of the body. Judaism tends to be more permissive about social uses of technology but more restrictive about personal aspirations and behavior. Enhancement technologies threaten the moral universals of humility, personal responsibility, and social solidarity, which are embodied in Jewish tradition as duties to God, self, and others. The tradition demands that we seek self-perfection while humbly and cautiously acknowledging that we can never arrive at it nor even know exactly what we seek.
9. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1
Helmut David Baer, Joseph E. Capizzi Just War Theory and the Problem of International Politics: On the Central Role of Just Intention
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IN THIS ESSAY WE ARGUE FOR A RECONFIGURATION OF JUST WAR THEORY around the principle of just intention. A just intention—based just war theory can overcome problems inherent in two alternative "ideal-typical" accounts of just war theory. The "internationalist" account argues for the promotion of justice, by analogy to its pursuit in domestic politics. The "realist" account, on the other hand, favors the particular manifestations of justice within states. Taken together, these two accounts complement each other and emphasize genuine goods. The possibility of taken them together, however, arises only out of consideration of just war theory as a peacemaking activity, ordered to the end, or intention, of this political act. If just war theory is not so understood, there is no possibility of drawing together these two complementary accounts.
book reviews
10. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1
Ellen Ott Marshall Witnessing & Testifying: Black Women, Religion, and Civil Rights
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