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A Conversation Worth Having: Hauerwas and Gustafson on Substance in Theological Ethics

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Abstract:

When a debate is misplaced, new problems are cast in the distorting language of the settled problems of the past while, at the same time, the participants in the debate are assimilated into communities of thought with which they have little in common. The result is that their work, and our response to it, is distorted. This article contends that the polemical debate between James Gustafson (and his followers) and Stanley Hauerwas (and his followers) is just such a misplaced debate. In fact, both can be shown to be Troeltschianhistoricists, and it is only when this commonality is recognized that their very real and deep differences can be rightly appreciated as emblematic of the true sources of disagreement at the growing edge of the discipline.

Keywords: Gustafson; Hauerwas; historicism; polemics; pragmatism; warranted belief

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/0384-9694.00055

Publication date: September 1, 2000

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