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MUST ETHICS BE THEOLOGICAL? A CRITIQUE OF THE NEW PRAGMATISTS

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Abstract:

ABSTRACT

In the last decade there has been a pragmatic turn in the work of those doing Christian ethics, especially as represented by the work of Jeffrey Stout and Franklin Gamwell. The pragmatic turn represents a critique of the highly influential work of Stanley Hauerwas and Alasdair MacIntyre, which argues for a strongly intra-church ethics. The pragmatists are correct in arguing that Christian ethics must engage the public sphere. However, I argue that they are deeply mistaken in their claim that this engagement must rest on a weak or non-existent theology. I show that the claim that robust theology adds nothing to ethics, and that we can get along without it, is unsustainable.

Keywords: abortion; communitarians; end-of-life care; forced birth control; human good; knowledge; liberal regimes; life extension; metaphysics; narrative theology; natural law; pragmatism; truth

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9795.2009.00405.x

Affiliations: Department of Languages, Philosophy, and Speech CommunicationUtah State UniversityLogan, UT 84322435.797.1244, Email: richard.sherlock@usu.edu

Publication date: December 1, 2009

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