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1. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Preface
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selected essays
2. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Cristina Traina Touch on Trial: Power and the Right to Physical Affection
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AGAINST THE BACKGROUND OF THE NEAR-PROHIBITION OF TOUCH IN RElations between unequals, this essay addresses very different questions: When do more-powerful people owe touch to less-powerful people as a consequence of their moral responsibility to care and nurture? How are we to understand morally the enjoyment that powerful adults receive from such contacts with their charges? This essay draws on psychological literature on touch to argue that touch is a condition of human flourishing. Consequently, in many circumstances (especially the nurture of children) the obligation to care not only permits but requires physical affection. It argues as well that the lines separating required, permitted, and forbidden touch are somewhat culture-dependent but nevertheless can be adjudicated. Finally, it suggests how traditional theologies and ethics of embodiment might support and be developed by these claims, showing that a positive ethic of touch shares the same theological foundations as the existing ethic of protection.
3. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Diana Fritz Cates The Religious Dimension of Ordinary Human Emotions
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UNDERSTANDING HOW EMOTIONS ARE COMPOSED AS MENTAL STATES can help us understand the access many people have to their own emotions. It also can help us understand how people might increase this access and make more effective use of it in their efforts to become more free and responsible in their emotional lives. This essay focuses on some forms of cognition that enter into the composition of at least some emotional states. It shows how thoughts, beliefs, assumptions, intuitions, and questions that are arguably religious can condition the ways in which people construe objects and events in their lives and thus the ways in which they form emotional responses to those objects and events. The essay takes its bearings from the work of James Gustafson and Martha Nussbaum.
4. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Jonathan K. Crane Because . . .: Justifying Law/Rationalizing Ethics
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ONE LINK WITHIN JUDAISM BETWEEN ETHICS AND LAW MAY BE FOUND IN the deployment of rationales in halakhah, Jewish law. Although rationales exist in biblical as well as rabbinic legal sources, in this essay I explore two rabbinic examples that are frequently cited, considered closely related, and applied to interactions between Jews and gentiles: mipnei darkhei shalom ("for the sake of peace") and mipnei eivah ("because of concern to prevent enmity"). I survey the broad range of issues to which these rationales are attached, evaluate current theories interpreting these rationales and their relationship to each other, and conclude with reflections on the dynamic tension between and historical development of halakhah and ethical concerns.
5. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Susan A. Ross Women, Beauty, and Justice: Moving Beyond von Balthasar
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IN THIS ESSAY I CONSIDER POSSIBLE CONTRIBUTIONS OF FEMINIST THEOLogy to theological aesthetics and ethics by comparing the work of Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905—88), the predominant figure in theological aesthetics, with that of Elizabeth Johnson and Sallie McFague. Balthasar's emphasis on contemplation and obedience in response to the unexpected revelation of God's glory contrasts with the practicality, mutuality, and creativity of feminist theological ethics. On the other hand, feminist theology's emphasis on appropriate language and images for God suggests an implicit aesthetics. The artistic work of contemporary African women in crisis situations sheds further light on both Balthasar and feminist theology and brings into relief the relationship of beauty and justice. Although Balthasar's emphasis on the transcendent glory of God may leave him with an undeveloped ethics, feminist theology's agent-oriented approach could benefit from greater attention to contemplation and a transformed understanding of obedience. These conclusions urge greater appreciation and development of the aesthetic and imaginative dimensions of feminist theological ethics.
6. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Alex Mikulich Mapping "Whiteness": The Complexity of Racial Formation and the Subversive Moral Imagination of the "Motley Crowd"
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THIS ESSAY MAPS SOCIAL HISTORICAL AND SOCIAL SCIENTIFIC INTERPREtations of Whiteness to develop an understanding of the complexity and rootedness of Whiteness as a social construction. Mapping Whiteness helps clarify historical pitfalls in the interpretation of racial formation, including the problems of essentialism, dualism, and assimilationism. A social historical perspective retrieves the multiethnic and multiclass reality of the "motley crowd" —sailors, slaves, and commoners whose religious and radical praxis subverted the dominant political and economic forces of the revolutionary Atlantic. The subversive praxis of the motley crowd suggests an alternative moral imagination, moored by Black Catholic political theology, that affirms the historical complexity of racial formation, critiques and subverts White privilege, and celebrates the need to extend multiple struggles for social, political, and economic liberation.
7. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Jonathan Rothchild Ethics, Law, and Economics: Legal Regulation of Corporate Responsibility
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ECONOMICS AND LAW HAVE HISTORICALLY ATTENUATED THE CONTRIBUtion of ethics in their putative separation of fact and value. In this essay I argue that reconceptualizing the relationships between law, economics, and ethics reveals the shortcomings of positions that disavow ethics. In the first section I contend that thinkers must reread Adam Smith as an economist and a moral philosopher to appreciate his extended treatment of sympathy, conscience, and social justice. In the second section I appropriate the work of Amartya Sen to examine the entanglement of fact and value in deliberating economic choices, including moral motivations and social evaluations that problematize reductive images of economic actors. Finally, I interrogate legal regulation of corporate governance with respect to the Enron scandal and the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act. I argue that legal regulation is a necessary but not sufficient resolution to corporate misconduct because it too enervates ethics and bifurcates fact and value.
8. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Douglas A. Hicks Self-Interest, Deprivation, and Agency: Expanding the Capabilities Approach
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IN THIS ESSAY I ENGAGE THE DEBATE AMONG THEOLOGIANS, PHILOSOphers, and economists on the proper role of self-interest in the pursuit of economic well-being. Often, neither economists' use of self-interest nor critics' rejection of it is carefully specified. I consider conditions under which acting in one's self-interest is theologically and morally proper. Specifically, I argue that for socioeconomically disadvantaged persons, increased exercise of self-interest should not be regarded as sinful but as a fitting expansion of agency and well-being. Contextual factors of distribution and the quality of social relations must inform any analysis of self-interest. I introduce a theological perspective on self-interest within an egalitarian Christian framework and suggest ways in which this approach enables further theological and ethical reflection on the proper role of self-interest.
9. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Gloria H. Albrecht Ideals and Injuries: The Denial of Difference in the Construction of Christian Family Ideals
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CONCERN ABOUT THE WELL-BEING OF FAMILIES HAS BEEN A CONSTANT refrain in the history of the United States. Change in family forms often has been regarded as a breakdown of the family and a harbinger of social decay. In each historical period, a family form has been identified as an ideal in contrast to which other forms of family have been found deficient, even dysfunctional. Social policies have been designed to reward "good" families and discourage "bad" ones. Today, the increase in single-mother families, the high divorce rate, and the percentage of children living in poverty often are cited as evidence of the breakdown of the family and abandonment of family values because of a culture of "inordinate individualism." The Marriage Movement particularly represents this view. In this essay I first describe this approach to family values, its use of social science to support its claims, and the influence of this perspective on certain liberal Christian proposals for family ideals. I argue that family ideals assume race, gender, and economic privileges that are not available to all. By ignoring socioeconomic realities for many people, these ideals may mask and reinforce unjust inequalities. In fact, the themes and policies of the defense-of-marriage movement fit nicely with the neoliberal political economy that developed in the second half of the twentieth century. I argue that church and social policies that value families must connect the well-being of all families with a commitment to gender equality and economic justice.
10. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Joe Pettit The Persistence of Injustice: Challenging Some Dominant Explanations
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IN THIS ESSAY I CONSIDER THE PROBLEM OF THE PERSISTENCE OF MASsive injustice in the United States and challenge some of the dominant explanations for this injustice. I argue that most explanations of injustice, such as appeals to corruption in human nature or the political order, only explain the injustice away by making it seem unreasonable to believe that anything could be done about it. Injustice, then, becomes only a state of affairs that is unfortunate for many but about which little can be done, beyond perhaps individual charity. Seeking to avoid this outcome, I argue that the persistence of injustice is best explained by lack of education on the part of citizens. This education involves knowledge of sociological and political realities as well as of ethical expectations requiring response to massive injustice. I conclude with suggestions for how ethicists might do a better of job of teaching about injustice.