Volume 35, Issue 1, Spring/Summer 2015
The Ethics of "Recognition"
Rowan Williams's Approach to Moral Discernment in the Christian Community
While he was archbishop of Canterbury from 2002 to 2012, the scholar and theologian Rowan Williams faced divisive controversy over ethical issues such as human sexuality, women's ordination, and the treatment of religious minorities. This essay presents a selective retrieval of Williams's approach to communal disagreement as an important contribution of the Anglican tradition to the future of Christian ethics. Williams's concept of ethical discernment as an exercise in "recognition" offers a way for communities to approach differences as fostering constructive engagement and expanding ethical insight. Kathryn Tanner's analysis of culture and tradition in Theories of Culture is used to explicate the strengths and limitations of Williams's thought.