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The Persistence of Christian Realism: A Study of the Social Ethics of Ronald H. Preston
Uppsala University, Humanistisk-samhällsvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet, Faculty of Theology, Department of Theology.
2001 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The persistence of the tradition of Christian Realism in England is exemplified by the lifelong contribution of Anglican moral theologian Ronald H. Preston. The purpose of this study is (1) to systematise, clarify and analyse Preston’s social ethical theory, with particular reference to Christian engagement with economic and political issues; (2) to undertake critical assessment of the ambiguities in Preston’s approach, in relation to the debate within moral philosophy, Christian ethics and political philosophy; and (3) to suggest a constructive proposal for an approach to social ethics in the public sphere that would be reasonable and authentic from a Christian perspective.

The study incorporates analysis of one form of Christian ethics and its implications for economic and political issues. Yet, engagement with the public sphere is related to fundamental theological and ethical views. What components make up the sources of Christian ethics, and how do they relate to one another? What are the implications of Christian ethics for normative evaluation of individual and political action? What is the role of economic theory for the interpretation and implementation of ethics? What are the implications of a theological position, of social ethical theory and of the assessment of the role of economic theory for making judgements about economic practice? After clarification and analysis of Preston’s views regarding these different areas of investigation, criteria for an adequate Christian ethical theory are formulated, in order to make a critical assessment of Preston’s approach. The main problems dealt with in this analysis are also of central relevance to the author’s own proposal about the basis for Christian ethics in the public sphere.

It is argued that Christian ethics has a particular contribution to make to morality, both for the motivation of ethics and for its content. The study shows that different conceptions of the relation-ship between ethics and a Christian system of belief influence both assessment of human moral possibilities and engagement beyond one’s own social context and tradition. If Christian ethics is based on Creation, Christology and Eschatology, it has resources within itself to be sufficient to engage with economic and political issues, in dialogue and solidarity with those who are excluded from participation in the interpretation of justice and the distribution of power.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis , 2001. , 261 p.
Uppsala Studies in Social Ethics, ISSN 0346-6507 ; 27
Keyword [en]
Religion, Christian ethics, social ethics, Christian Realism, R. Niebuhr, J. Bennett, Anglican ethics, moral theology, W. Temple, R. Preston, love, justice, solidarity, middle axioms, economic theory, economic practice, social responsibility
Keyword [sv]
National Category
Religious Studies
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-1503ISBN: 91-554-5125-XOAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-1503DiVA: diva2:161096
Public defence
2001-11-30, Room IX, Uppsala, 10:15
Available from: 2001-11-06 Created: 2001-11-06Bibliographically approved

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