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Att försvara det tunna med det tjocka i det platta: Alasdair MacIntyre, Stanley Hauerwas och Nicholas M. Healy om teologins och kyrkans möjliga bidrag till försvar av universella värden
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
2019 (Swedish)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesisAlternative title
To promote the thin with the thick in the shallow : Alasdair MacIntyre, Stanley Hauerwas and Nicholas M. Healy on the potential contribution by theology and church in justifying universal values (English)
Abstract [en]

The late modern and globalized societies, of the western type, are challenged in their defence of universal values such as ’the equal value of all’. There are signs of a growing lack of community (Gemeinschaft). With this secular backgrund, the issue for theology and churches is how to address the public domain when trying to promote the universal values by the support of their community(ies).

   In this essay, three theologians with a virtue ethical orientation are analyzed in a search for potential contributions. The virtue ethical option has been chosen whereas virtue ethics stresses the importance of community (ies) in forming ethics. Correspondingly, a lack of community(ies) could hypothetically be related to a lack of virtues (in a non-moralistic sense).

   The relation between virtue ethics, with its particularistic flavour, and duty ethics, with its more universalististic orientation, is complex. In the essay, the possibility for theology and churches to address the secular problem, is made dependent on whether their special ethical message could be successfully translated into the public domain. The translation challenge is twofold, one within the secular realm, the other from the theology-churchly realms into the secular realm.

   The theologian/philosophers chosen are Alasdair MacIntyre, Stanley Hauerwas and Nicholas M. Healy. The analysis is made within a framework where these three, as represented by some of their central contributions, are characterized by three polarities, three dimensions.

   A first dimension, within the secular realm, concerns the relation between virtue ethics and rule ethics and whether they are substitutes (strong virtue ethics) or complements (weak virtue ethics). The second dimension, has to do whether the virtue ethic is antropocentric or theocentric. The third dimension, related to the second one, concerns ecclesiology and regard the church either as an antropological or a theocentric body.

   In the first dimension, MacIntyre is characterized as supporting a fairly strong virtue ethics but with important elements of rule ethics. In comparison, Hauerwas seems to support a stronger virtue ethics with his emphasis on the narrative formation of ethics. A common feature for them is their focus on problems in translating messages within the secular realm.

   In the second dimension, MacIntyre is found to have a mixed position, with elements of both an antropocentric virtue ethics as well as a theocentric virtue ethics. The same holds for Hauerwas, although he stresses the theocentric dimension of ethics in describing the role of churches in society. However, Hauerwas is criticized by Healy for having a weak link between theology and ethics and for being too dependent on secular sciences in his ethical program.

   In the third dimension, MacIntyre is found to have a very implicit view of the church and it is unclear whether it is an antropocentric or a theocentric body. Hauerwas, with his focus on the formative value of biblical narratives, have a more theocentric view of the church. The same holds for Healy, although he prefers a dramatic narrative a la von Balthasar in comparison with Hauerwas’ more epical narration.

    In conclusion, the potential contribution of theology and churches in combatting the challenges facing the secular society is an open issue. But secular ideologies with their community-related virtue ethics may face similar translation problems, although they avoid the problem of translation from the churchly realm.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. , p. 69
Keywords [en]
Alasdair MacIntyre, Stanley Hauerwas, Nicholas M. Healy, virtue ethics, ecclesiology, ethics, community, universalism, particularism, thick values, thin values
National Category
Religious Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-167943OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-167943DiVA, id: diva2:1392386
Subject / course
Theology
Examiners
Available from: 2020-02-07 Created: 2020-02-07 Last updated: 2020-02-07Bibliographically approved

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