Ethical Notes

– Being a Christian, my ethical approach takes on a decidedly (obviously enough) Christian tone . I generally fall within the virtue ethics camp – I think that the moral character of a person, specifically an ethicist, is of huge importance (though I’m predominantly influenced by Dietrich Bonhoeffer). While anyone can utter correct moral tidbits (a murderer can tell you not to murder, and it’s still sound advice despite the status of the person uttering it), when one attempts to articulate a comprehensive moral way of life, surely their character must be taken into account.

– Christian ethicists have an even stricter standard – or at least I think they should. When a Christian ethicist lives in a way that is profoundly at odds with the doctrines and values they preach, while not invalidating the truth of what they say in a strictly logical sense (again, someone can say something true even if they don’t follow it themselves) that is serious cause to stop and reflect on whether or not they are a good source to be drawing ethical ideas from.

– To repeat: whether someone is of impeccable character or not doesn’t logically invalidate the truth of what they may say, but behaviour and action do provide a window to the heart, which, for the Christian, is ultimately the most important part of the person as a whole.

– The basis of Christian ethics is the invalidation of the knowledge of good and evil (Bonhoeffer) – hence the importance of the heart in ethics and by extension the importance of character and action as well.


One thought on “Ethical Notes

  1. Cal August 21, 2014 / 10:52 am

    I’ve been wrestling with some of these thoughts too. I began postulating what I might call ‘affective ethics’, which has to do, in line with thinking Cranmer’s anthropology (heart->will->reason), with the loves. Thus, rightly ordered loves, in Augustine’s terms, would produce orthopraxis (along with orthodoxy).

    This is all contrary to Aristotelian concepts of habit, and the ladder climbing of the late Medieval sacramental structure.

    However, loving is not mere emotion and/or feeling, but also doing, which may involve conflicted loves. So I wonder how much this applies within the umbrella of ‘virtue ethics’, if , say, eudaimonia is in other-love and giving.

    Also, been wrestling with how the speaker’s ethics call into question systematic displays. I am pacifistic, and have proferred much from JH Yoder. But his sexual immorality, and his rather apologetic reasoning for it, calls some of what he has written into question. Not that he is a bed-rock, there are better examples in Chelcicky, Tertullian, and even the Apostles themselves. But I do think all ethics are connected, so sexual conduct is a part of how one understands violence, and how one understands public testimony and interaction.

    Food for thought,

    Liked by 1 person

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