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Fundamental Issues in Moral Theology (17 vols.)
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Overview

Fundamental Issues in Moral Theology brings together 17 texts that address contemporary ethical issues within theology. These texts explore a diverse range of issues from the definition and real world applications of Christian love to heroism, casuistry, virtue ethics, good and evil, and more. These volumes provide useful insight into the historical methodologies that have governed moral theology as well as the modern adaptations and modifications of those methodologies. Together, the 17 texts included in this collection offer a valuable introduction to moral theology and virtue ethics, as well as an extensive examination of the specific applications and interpretations at work today.

The Moral Traditions Series by Georgetown University Press places contemporary moral issues in conversation with theologians to engage the church with the world. The texts included in this collection explore the moral traditions of the church and bring historical views into new light. The Logos edition of the Moral Traditions Series is comprised of five collections: Moral Perspectives on Feminism (3 vols.), Moral Perspectives on Sex, Family, and Bioethics (7 vols.), Fundamental Issues in Moral Theology (17 vols.), Moral Theologians Collection (10 vols.), and Moral Perspectives on Society and Politics (11 vols.).

In the Logos editions, these valuable volumes are enhanced by amazing functionality. Scripture citations link directly to English translations, and important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

Save 20% on the complete Moral Traditions Series when you order the Georgetown University Press Moral Traditions Series Bundle (48 vols.). Get more resources and more savings when you bundle.

Key Features

  • Methodologies for engaging today’s ethical issues
  • A variety of perspectives on virtue ethics
  • Examinations of historical ethical perspectives

Individual Titles

Christian Love: How Christians Through the Ages Have Understood Love

  • Author: Bernard V. Brady
  • Series Editor: James F. Keenan
  • Series: Moral Traditions Series
  • Publisher: Georgetown University Press
  • Publication Date: 2003
  • Pages: 320

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

Christians are taught that God is love and are commanded to love, their neighbors and their enemies. Throughout the history of Christianity, the meaning of this love has been controversial. This book explores the tradition of Christian reflection on the meaning and experience of love, loving, and being loved.

Many books have been written about Christian love, but no book has gathered together this kind of primary source material and covered such a wide range of perspectives, allowing the reader to engage directly with the thought and experience of some of the greatest Christian minds on the topic of love. Bernard Brady covers with remarkable clarity the breadth and depth of discussions on Christian love from the Bible to contemporary experience to create this—a survey of how Christians through the ages have understood love.

This collection provides direct access to some of the most distinctive and influential biblical and Christian statements on love . . . The volume could be very useful as a text for classes not only on the subject of Christian love but as an overview of basic directions of Christian thought over the centuries. It is also accessible enough for more general reflection for Christians as individuals or in groups.

Horizons

With a judicious use of secondary sources and penetrating personal commentary, Bernard V. Brady introduces the reader to the major texts dealing with Christian love from the Scriptures through all the periods of church history down to the present. Students and teachers alike will learn much from the work of this very talented pedagogue.

—Charles E. Curran, Elizabeth Scurlock University Professor of Human Values, Southern Methodist University

Bernard V. Brady is a professor of theology at the University of St. Thomas and the author of The Moral Bond of Community: Justice and Discourse in Christian Morality.

Love, Human and Divine: The Heart of Christian Ethics

  • Author: Edward Collins Vacek, SJ
  • Series Editor: James F. Keenan
  • Series: Moral Traditions Series
  • Publisher: Georgetown University Press
  • Publication Date: 1996
  • Pages: 336

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

Although the two great commandments to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves are central to Christianity, few theologians or spiritual writers have undertaken an extensive account of the meaning and forms of these loves. Most accounts, in fact, make love of God and love of self either impossible or immoral. Integrating these two commandments, Edward Vacek, SJ, develops an original account of love as the theological foundation for Christian ethics.

Vacek criticizes common understandings of agape, eros, and philia, examining the arguments of Aquinas, Nygren, Outka, Rahner, Scheler, and other theologians and philosophers. He defines love as an emotional, affirmative participation in the beloved’s real and ideal goodness, and he extends this definition to the love between God and self. Vacek proposes that the heart of Christian moral life is loving cooperation with God in a mutually perfecting friendship.

This book, based on broad and critical research, should be a standard reference for years to come.

—Richard A. McCormick, SJ, formerly of the University of Notre Dame

Vacek breaks through the polemics that have too often dominated twentieth-century discussions to a view of Christian love that is simultaneously humanistic and God-centered. Deeply informed both by reflection on the experience of love and by the vast literature about it, this book makes a creative contribution to a Christian ethic that achieves its fulfillment in friendship with God. An important achievement.

—David Hollenbach, SJ, Margaret O’Brien Flatley Professor of Catholic Theology, Boston College

Edward Collins Vacek, SJ, is professor of moral theology at the Weston School of Theology.

Moral Evil

  • Author: Andrew Michael Flescher
  • Series Editor: James F. Keenan
  • Series: Moral Traditions Series
  • Publisher: Georgetown University Press
  • Publication Date: 2013
  • Pages: 288

The idea of moral evil has always held a special place in philosophy and theology because the existence of evil has implications for the dignity of the human and the limits of human action. Andrew M. Flescher proposes four interpretations of evil, drawing on philosophical and theological sources and using them to trace through history the moral traditions that are associated with them.

Flescher eschews the temptation to think of human agents who commit evil as outside the norm of human experience. Instead, through the honing of moral skills and the practice of attending to the needs of others, Flescher offers a plausible and hopeful approach to the reality of moral evil.

. . . Flescher offers a subtle and incisive analysis of evil that is compelling, insightful, and ultimately calls us to cultivate those virtues that alone can protect us from the force of evil in human life.

—Louis E. Newman, John M. and Elizabeth W. Musser Professor of Religious Studies, Carleton College

Flescher’s analysis is penetrating and ethically unflinching. At the same time, it reflects great compassion. This book ought to be read by everyone who longs for goodness and is pained by its absence.

—Diana Fritz Cates, professor and chair, department of religious studies, University of Iowa

The conclusion to the book makes a superb contribution by developing a connection between the author’s favorite model—Augustinian privation and Aristotelian virtue ethics—a worthy contribution to the field of ethics.

—Dale S. Wright, Gamble Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies, Occidental College

Andrew Michael Flescher is a member of the core faculty, program in public health, an associate professor of preventive medicine, and an associate professor of English at Stony Brook University. He is the author of Heroes, Saints, and Ordinary Morality.

The Banality of Good and Evil: Moral Lessons from the Shoah and Jewish Tradition

  • Author: David R. Blumenthal
  • Series Editor: James F. Keenan
  • Series: Moral Traditions Series
  • Publisher: Georgetown University Press
  • Publication Date: 1999
  • Pages: 336

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

People who helped exterminate Jews during the shoah (Hebrew for “holocaust”) often claimed that they only did what was expected of them. Intrigued by hearing the same response from individuals who rescued Jews, David R. Blumenthal proposes that the notion of ordinariness used to characterize Nazi evil is equally applicable to goodness. In this provocative book, Blumenthal develops a new theory of human behavior that identifies the social and psychological factors that foster both good and evil behavior.

Writing with power and insight, Blumenthal shows readers of all faiths how we might replace patterns of evil with empathy, justice, and caring, and with a renewed attention to moral education, perhaps prevent future shoahs.

Honorable Mention at The Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Awards 2000

Blumenthal has written an unusually well-reasoned, well-researched, and well-presented book involving his post-Holocaust moral and religious reflections on preventing future genocides . . . Blumenthal’s effort to integrate his science-based findings about values with selected prosocial teachings in Judaism and to commend this approach for those of other faiths adds a traditional richness to his work.

Choice

[Blumenthal] challenges readers to confront their own behavior and ask whether they live their lives in a way that facilitates the doing of good.

—Deborah E. Lipstadt, Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies, Emory University

. . . Blumenthal is to be commended for the brilliance and the erudition with which he has handled a very difficult and provocative subject in this masterful work.

Conservative Judaism

David R. Blumenthal is Jay and Leslie Cohen Professor of Judaic Studies in the department of religion at Emory University. He is the author of many books, including God at the Center and Facing the Abusing God: A Theology of Protest.

Shaping the Moral Life: An Approach to Moral Theology

  • Author: Klaus Demmer
  • Translator: Brian McNeil
  • Series Editor: James F. Keenan
  • Series: Moral Traditions Series
  • Publisher: Georgetown University Press
  • Publication Date: 2000
  • Pages: 96

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

Although he is one of the most influential Catholic theologians in Europe, very few of Klaus Demmer’s writings are available in English. This translation of his well-known work on moral theology introduces Demmer’s thought to English-speaking audiences.

In an original synthesis of scholastic and continental philosophy, Demmer brings the Catholic moral tradition into conversation with contemporary philosophical schools—transcendental, hermeneutical, and analytical—to fashion a moral theology in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council. He shows the richness of the neoscholastic tradition in shaping and being shaped by our contemporary self-understanding.

A major contribution to shaping the complex landscape of fundamental moral theology . . . Serious students of moral theology will not want to miss Demmer’s fresh and original insights.

—Richard M. Gula, SS, Franciscan School of Theology, Graduate Theological Union

Klaus Demmer, MSC is a member of the Order of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart. From 1970 to 2003 he was a professor of moral theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He has published over 25 books on moral theology and is considered the foremost European moral theologian of his generation.

The Acting Person and Christian Moral Life

  • Author: Dalene Fozard Weaver
  • Series Editor: James F. Keenan
  • Series: Moral Traditions Series
  • Publisher: Georgetown University Press
  • Publication Date: 2011
  • Pages: 226

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

In this provocative analysis of contemporary Catholic moral theology Darlene Fozard Weaver shows the person as a moral agent acting in relation to God. Using an overarching theological context of sinful estrangement from and gracious reconciliation in God, Weaver shows how individuals negotiate their relationships with God in and through their involvement with others and the world.

Darlene Weaver’s, The Acting Person and the Christian Moral Life, should represent a new starting point for sterile debates in ethics, and in particular Catholic moral theology. Drawing on philosophical accounts of the role of description for naming moral actions, she provides a constructive account of how theological language should do its proper work.

Stanley Hauerwas, Carole Baker Research Associate, Duke Divinity School

Building on a thoughtful, sympathetic, and yet challenging study of recent Catholic moral theology, Weaver shows how our human engagement with material and relational goods forms our wills and contributes to our ongoing relationship with God. This is a well-argued, important study which deserves, and I expect to receive, wide attention.

—Jean Porter, John A. O’Brien Professor of Moral Theology, University of Notre Dame

Dalene Fozard Weaver is an associate professor of theology and the director of the Theology Institute at Villanova University. She is the author of Self Love and Christian Ethics and coeditor of The Ethics of Embryo Adoption and the Catholic Tradition.

Defending Probabilism: The Moral Theology of Juan Caramuel

  • Author: Julia Fleming
  • Series Editor: James F. Keenan
  • Series: Moral Traditions Series
  • Publisher: Georgetown University Press
  • Publication Date: 2006
  • Pages: 224

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

Probabilism is a moral system that was developed in the early seventeenth century to resolve problems of everyday life. This method of solving difficult moral cases allowed the believer to rely upon a view that was judged defensible in terms of its arguments or the authorities behind it, even if the opposite opinion was supported by stronger arguments or more authorities. The theologian Juan Caramuel, a Spanish Cistercian monk, whom Alphonso Liguori famously characterized as “the prince of laxists,” has been regarded as one of the more extreme—and notorious—proponents of probabilism. As the only full-length English study of Caramuel’s theological method, Defending Probabilism seeks to reappraise Caramuel’s legacy, claiming that his model of moral thinking, if better understood, can actually be of help to the Church today.

A valuable insight into a period in the history of moral theology that is too little appreciated today . . . I would strongly recommend this text to every student or moral theology, but especially to candidate priest-confessors.

—Joseph A. Selling, LOUVAIN STUDIES

This meticulous study of an obscure (but in his time notorious) moral theologian sheds light on a very modern problem, the certitude with which we can affirm our moral beliefs.

—Albert Jonsen, professor emeritus of ethics in medicine, University of Washington

It is rare to find a book on an obscure theologian that forces one to rethink standard assumptions. Julia Fleming’s book is such a one. The colorful life and complex thinking of Juan Caramuel are reconstructed with research of primary sources that is detailed and convincing. More importantly, she illustrates how the history of modern moral theology needs to be reassessed.

—Raphael Gallagher, CSsR, professor of systematic moral theology, The Alphonsian Academy of the Pontifical Lateran University, Rome

Julia Fleming is an associate professor of theology at Creighton University.

Living the Truth: A Theory of Action

  • Author: Klaus Demmer
  • Translator: Brian McNeil
  • Series Editor: James F. Keenan
  • Series: Moral Traditions Series
  • Publisher: Georgetown University Press
  • Publication Date: 2010
  • Pages: 176

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

In this first English translation of Living the Truth, Klaus Demmer relates moral theology to pastoral theology by offering a complete theory of action. Its crucial element is truthfulness, which Demmer claims is a basic attitude that must be translated concretely into our individual decisions. Demmer demonstrates that the demand for truthfulness offers a critical corrective to the usual praxis whereby ethical norms are formulated. This has significant consequences for every area of ethical directives, including questions about celibacy and partnerships.

Demmer moves away from the act-centered morality that dominates the neo-Scholastic manuals of moral theology. His concern is to show how our actions embody and carry out a more original anthropological project. Not only does this anthropological project condition our insights into goods and values, it provides the criteria by which our actions are judged morally. This book will be welcomed by all who are looking for ethical norms, and by all whose task it is to formulate such norms.

Klaus Demmer’s Living the Truth is the signature work of one of the most influential Catholic moral theologians of the last fifty years. His central concern with freedom, truthfulness, and the ‘ethical praxis’ of Christian life will enrich English-speaking moral theology as it has already shaped the European. This carefully argued analysis of moral agency ought to be read by every moral theologian.

Stephen J. Pope, professor of theology, Boston College

In this book, English-speaking moral theologians for the first time have access to the very influential hermeneutical ethical method of one of Europe's foremost moral theologians . . . a veritable mind opener.

Charles E. Curran, Elizabeth Scurlock University Professor of Human Values, Southern Methodist University

In understanding Demmer better, we may also better understand ourselves and our horizons.

—From the foreword by James F. Keenan, SJ

Klaus Demmer, MSC is a member of the Order of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart. From 1970 to 2003 he was a professor of moral theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He has published over twenty-five books on moral theology and is considered the foremost European moral theologian of his generation.

Handbook of Roman Catholic Moral Terms

  • Author: James T. Bretzke
  • Series Editor: James F. Keenan
  • Series: Moral Traditions Series
  • Publisher: Georgetown University Press
  • Publication Date: 2013
  • Pages: 288

The Handbook of Roman Catholic Moral Terms contains more than 800 moral terms, offering concise definitions, historical context, and illustrations of how these terms are used in the Catholic tradition, including Church teaching and documents.

Designed to serve as a vital reference work for libraries, students and scholars of theology, priests and pastoral ministers, as well as all adults interested in theological enrichment or continuing education, the Handbook of Roman Catholic Moral Terms is the most comprehensive post-Vatican II work of its kind available in English.

This book is an invaluable point of entry to a worldview and logic that survives still as the scaffolding of official Roman Catholic pronouncements on sexual and biomedical ethics. Anyone who needs to teach, counsel, or write in these areas will pull Bretzke’s book frequently off the shelf.

—Lisa Sowle Cahill, Monan Professor of Theology, Boston College

This much-needed reference work for students and scholars of all stripes is a resource that can guide research and clarify discussions of complex issues often confused by the misuse of key concepts.

—Richard M. Gula, SS, professor emeritus of moral theology, Franciscan School of Theology

Bretzke’s Handbook is comprehensive, practical, and thoughtfully written. Intelligently organized with helpful references, it draws the reader to a richer understanding and appreciation of the catholic moral tradition. It will be a valuable resource for any student of moral theology.

—Eric Marcelo O. Genilo, SJ, assistant professor, Loyola School of Theology

James T. Bretzke, SJ is a professor of moral theology at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. He has taught at Jesuit universities in Rome, Seoul, Manila, Berkeley, and Milwaukee. He is the author of several books, including A Morally Complex World: Engaging Contemporary Moral Theology. In 2007, Bretzke won the College Theology Society’s Best Article Award for his article, “A Burden of Means: Interpreting Recent Catholic Magisterial Teaching on End-of-Life Issues.”

The Catholic Moral Tradition Today: A Synthesis

  • Author: Charles E. Curran
  • Series Editor: James F. Keenan
  • Series: Moral Traditions Series
  • Publisher: Georgetown University Press
  • Publication Date: 1999
  • Pages: 272

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

In The Catholic Moral Tradition Today Charles E. Curran provides a succinct, coherent account of his wide-ranging work in Catholic moral theology, pointing out agreements, disagreements, and changes in significant aspects of the Catholic moral tradition. His systematic approach explores major topics in a logical development, including the ecclesiological foundation and stance of moral theology, the person as moral subject and agent, conscience and decision making, the role of the Church as a teacher of morality, and virtues, principles and norms.

Curran condenses and organizes a large amount of material to show that the Catholic theological tradition is in dialogue with contemporary life and thought while remaining conscious of its rich history. Of great interest to theologians for its broad synthetic scope, this book is also a thorough introduction to the Catholic moral tradition for students and interested readers, including non-Catholics.

Students who want to understand the Catholic moral tradition will find this book to be a rich resource. Curran knows the tradition in all its nuances and intricacies.

Journal of the American Academy of Religion

The breadth of Curran’s comprehensive synthesis is striking.

New York Times Book Review

[The Catholic Moral Tradition Today] will provide the student with a firm grounding in the Catholic moral tradition in a clearly written and engaging style.

Catholic Library World

. . . the text reflects a career’s worth of astute scholarly and pastoral study and reflection on the matters it treats.

—Christine Firer Hinze, associate professor of theology, Marquette University

A superb piece of scholarship and synthesis of contemporary Catholic morality. I foresee this book being used widely as a textbook or required reading in schools of theology.

—Richard M. Gula, SS, Franciscan School of Theology

This magisterial presentation of the Catholic moral tradition is the work of one of the greatest 20th century moral theologians . . . It is the distillation of his life’s work.

—J. Philip Wogaman, senior minister, Foundry United Methodist Church

Charles E. Curran is the Elizabeth Scurlock University Professor of Human Values at Southern Methodist University. He has served as president of three national societies: the American Theological Society, the Catholic Theological Society of America, and the Society of Christian Ethics. He has written or edited more than forty books, including The Origins of Moral Theology in the United States.

The Christian Case for Virtue Ethics

  • Author: Joseph J. Kotva Jr.
  • Series Editor: James F. Keenan
  • Series: Moral Traditions Series
  • Publisher: Georgetown University Press
  • Publication Date: 1997
  • Pages: 240

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

In The Christian Case for Virtue Ethics, Joseph Kotva defines virtue ethics and demonstrates its ability to voice Christian convictions about how to live the moral life. He evaluates virtue theory in light of systematic theology and Scripture, arguing that Christian ethics could be profitably linked with neo-Aristotelian virtue ethics. His work provides a thorough but accessible introduction to recent philosophical accounts of virtue and offers an original Christian adaptation of these ideas. It will be of value to students and scholars of philosophy, theology, and religion, as well as to those interested in the debates surrounding virtue ethics.

Anyone looking for a good book to read on the recent ‘return to virtue’ in moral theory should begin with Kotva. Not only has he read everything that has been written on the subject but even more, he has read it well. His accounts of recent philosophical discussions are as interesting and well done as his constructive theological task. His use of Scripture is particularly noteworthy.

Stanley M. Hauerwas, Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics, Duke University

This excellent new book should be welcomed by readers looking for an introduction to virtue ethics, celebrated by those looking for an apology for virtue ethics, and prized by those looking for a constructive Christian account of virtue ethics.

Allen Verhey, The Evert J. and Hattie E. Blekkink Professor of Religion, Hope College

Joseph J. Kotva Jr. received his doctorate in theology and ethics from Fordham University. He is pastor of the First Mennonite Church of Allentown, Pennsylvania.

The Context of Casuistry

  • Editors: James F. Keenan and Thomas A. Shannon
  • Series Editor: James F. Keenan
  • Series: Moral Traditions Series
  • Publisher: Georgetown University Press
  • Publication Date: 1995
  • Pages: 256

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This collection of essays was assembled in direct response to Albert Jonsen and Stephen Toulmin’s The Abuse of Casuistry, in which they pointed out the substantial changes in moral methodology used by the Catholic Church over the last few centuries. These essays approach casuistry from a wide variety of angles, but all of them agree that comparing contemporary attempts to address moral issues with the sixteenth century method of moral reasoning is a mistake. This collection emerged from the Annual Conference of the Society of Christian Ethics in 1993, where the authors of these essays discovered the ways their scholarship aligned.

The current debate about casuistic method and the relation of case reasoning to ethical theory can benefit from a closer study of the history . . . The Context of Casuistry contributes importantly to this discovery.

—From the foreword by Albert R. Jonsen

We are finally beginning to see that casuistry, once so despised, points a way out of the great dilemmas in moral reasoning we face today. To read this superb book is to emerge from a cloud of unknowing.

—John W. O’Malley, SJ, distinguished professor of church history, Weston Jesuit School of Theology

No one who is interested in the structure of moral reasoning can afford to ignore these scholarly essays.

—Richard M. Gula, SS, professor of moral theology, St. Patrick’s Seminary

James F. Keenan has been a Jesuit of the New York Province since 1970 and an ordained priest since 1982. He is a member of the board of directors for the Catholic Theological Society of America, a fellow of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Humanities at the University of Edinburgh, and a fellow of the Center of Theological Inquiry at Princeton. He has published numerous articles in scholarly journals including Theological Studies, Journal of Moral Theology, and the Asian Christian Review. His published books include The Ethics of the Word: Voices in the Catholic Church Today, Moral Wisdom: Lessons and Texts from the Catholic Tradition, and Goodness and Rightness in Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologiae.

Thomas A. Shannon is professor emeritus of religion and social ethics in the department of humanities and arts at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

The Critical Calling: Reflections on Moral Dilemmas Since Vatican II

  • Author: Richard A. McCormick
  • Series Editor: James F. Keenan
  • Series: Moral Traditions Series
  • Publisher: Georgetown University Press
  • Publication Date: 2006
  • Pages: 434

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Father McCormick begins The Critical Calling with his personal affirmation of the work of Vatican II: “I believe the Council was a work of the Spirit—desperately needed, divinely inspired, devotedly and doggedly carried through.” Still, he stresses this was no uncritical endorsement of everything the Council did and said. Part One includes a discussion of fundamental moral theology that looks at the relationship between the church hierarchy and individual moral decision making and several chapters addressing issues precipitated by actions involving Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI. Part Two focuses on practical and pastoral questions that touch on contemporary concerns ranging from abortion to AIDS, divorce, homosexuality, and teenage sexuality.

Richard McCormick was a moral theologian of the very first rank, demonstrating all the qualities he said we should expect of Catholic moral theology of the future. He was eminently insightful, realistic, scientifically informed, straightforward, ecumenical, and catholic in every sense of the word. The book is an impressive representation indeed of all that Father McCormick contributed to the Church over the past three decades and more.

—Richard P. McBrien, Crowley O’Brien Professor, University of Notre Dame

Richard A. McCormick, SJ (1922–2000) was one of the leading U.S. Roman Catholic moral theologians of the 20th century. He was the John A. O’Brien Professor of Christian Ethics in the department of theology at the University of Notre Dame until his retirement in 1999, and a former senior research scholar of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics. Father McCormick was well-known for his annual “Moral Notes” published in the Jesuit quarterly Theological Studies from 1965 to 1984.

The Development of Moral Theology: Five Strands

  • Author: Charles E. Curran
  • Series Editor: James F. Keenan
  • Series: Moral Traditions Series
  • Publisher: Georgetown University Press
  • Publication Date: 2013
  • Pages: 288

Charles Curran in his newest book, The Development of Moral Theology: Five Strands, brings a unique historical and critical analysis to the five strands that differentiate Catholic moral theology from other approaches to Christian ethics—sin and the manuals of moral theology, the teaching of Thomas Aquinas and later Thomists, natural law, the role of authoritative church teaching in moral areas, and Vatican II. Significant changes have occurred over the course of these historical developments. In addition, pluralism and diversity exist even today, as illustrated in the theory of natural law proposed by Cardinal Ratzinger. Useful to anyone who studies Catholic moral theology, The Development of Moral Theology illuminates the importance of a truly theological and critical approach to moral theology in the light of the historical development of the five strands.

This book is a significant contribution to our understanding of the development of moral theology. By Curran’s wise choice of five critical historical strands in the history of moral theology, he provides needed background, particularly for those new to the field. His presentation of the history of the various understandings of natural law alone makes the book a valuable contribution. This book will be particularly valuable for those too young to remember the pre-Vatican II church as well as the Council itself because Curran deftly presents the currents of thought that led us to the Council, through it, and to our current debates in moral theology.

Thomas Shannon, professor emeritus of religion and social ethics, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

This is a mature and insightful work by one of the most respected scholars within the discipline.

Kenneth R. Himes, OFM, Boston College

Accessible to students and to a general audience in its broader narrative, Curran’s volume also offers professionals an insightful analysis of recent history and events. This book is a valuable addition to any theological library.

—Julia Fleming, associate professor, Creighton University

This thematic history of moral theology is vintage Curran: scholarly, accessible, and enlightening. Few living moral theologians can match Curran’s masterful control of the literature and communicate so clearly. A perfect text for graduate courses and scholars seeking a broad understanding of what the field of moral theology looks like today and how we got here.

—Julie Hanlon Rubio, associate professor of Christian ethics, St. Louis University

Charles E. Curran is the Elizabeth Scurlock University Professor of Human Values at Southern Methodist University. He has served as president of three national societies: the American Theological Society, the Catholic Theological Society of America, and the Society of Christian Ethics. He has written or edited more than forty books, including The Origins of Moral Theology in the United States.

The Evolution of Altruism and the Ordering of Love

  • Author: Stephen J. Pope
  • Series Editor: James F. Keenan
  • Series: Moral Traditions Series
  • Publisher: Georgetown University Press
  • Publication Date: 1995
  • Pages: 176

In this book, Stephen J. Pope argues that contemporary scientifically-based theories of the evolution of altruism provide important insights into one of the fundamental moral problems of Christian ethics—the natural basis of love and its ordering. He explores the contributions evolutionary theory makes to our understanding of the biological foundations of kin preference and reciprocal care, the limits of love, and the need for an ordering of love. He proposes that understanding human nature in its broader evolutionary context brings to ethics a needed balance between the personal and biological dimensions of human nature.

Pope has emerged as a leading voice both in the theological analysis of the nature of love and in the relation of Christian love to evolutionary theories of altruism. This book is among the most persuasive recent studies in theological ethics and will become a benchmark for informed future discussions.

Theological Studies

Stephen J. Pope is a professor in the department of theology at Boston College.

Heroes, Saints, and Ordinary Morality

  • Author: Andrew Michael Flescher
  • Series Editor: James F. Keenan
  • Series: Moral Traditions Series
  • Publisher: Georgetown University Press
  • Publication Date: 2003
  • Pages: 352

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Traditional approaches to ethics have suggested there is a sharp distinction between ordinary people and those called heroes and saints, as well as between duties and acts of supererogation—going beyond the expected. Flescher seeks to undo these standard dichotomies by looking at the lives and actions of certain historical figures—Holocaust rescuers, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, and others—who appear to be extraordinary but were, in fact, ordinary people. Heroes, Saints, and Ordinary Morality shifts the way we see ourselves in relationship to those we admire from afar—it asks us not only to admire, but to emulate. Furthermore, it challenges us to actively seek the acquisition of virtue as seen in the lives of heroes and saints, to learn from them, a dynamic aspect of ethical behavior that goes beyond the mere avoidance of wrongdoing.

Equally at home in moral philosophy and theological ethics, Flescher offers a powerful critique of the division in ethics between moral duty and supererogation. This work should open a significant debate over the validity of this distinction.

—Stephen G. Post, professor of bioethics, Case Western Reserve University

In a scholarly yet lucid and persuasive fashion, Andrew Flescher rejects traditional notions of supererogation and argues that moral development toward altruism is a requirement of virtue. In Heroes, Saints, and Ordinary Morality, he suggests how virtue ethics, properly understood, undermines all notions of moral complacency and makes possible the movement of character toward sainthood. An incisive and ambitious contribution to debates over the nature and limits of both commonsense morality and virtue.

—Terrence Reynolds, department of theology, Georgetown University

Flescher offers a compelling case that altruism is within the grasp of ordinary mortals. In a rich and nuanced discussion, Flescher not only succeeds in repositioning the underexplored idea of supererogation to the center of moral reflection, but then presents his reader with a challenge to move forward in the moral life to discern new possibilities for personal moral development. Flescher offers here a stunning intellectual achievement, but even more importantly he prods the reader to reflect on moral complacency while providing clues for how to envision a better, more virtuous life.

—Lloyd Steffen, chair of religious studies, Lehigh University

Drawing on materials as diverse as ethical theory, classical literature, and the memoirs of Holocaust rescuers, Flescher argues that heroism and saintlinesss have a place in all of our lives because each of us has a lifelong duty to become morally better than we are.

—Ronald M. Green, Eunice and Julian Cohen Professor for the Study of Ethics and Human Values, Dartmouth College

Andrew Michael Flescher is an assistant professor in the department of religious studies and the director of the Center for Applied and Professional Ethics at California State University at Chico.

Who Count As Persons?: Human Identity and the Ethics of Killing

  • Author: John F. Kavanaugh, SJ
  • Series Editor: James F. Keenan
  • Series: Moral Traditions Series
  • Publisher: Georgetown University Press
  • Publication Date: 2001
  • Pages: 240

Today in every corner of the world men and women are willing to kill others in the name of “realism” and under the guise of race, class, quality of life, sex, property, nationalism, security, or religion. We justify these killings by either excluding certain humans from our definition of personhood or by invoking a greater good or more pressing value.

In Who Count As Persons?, Kavanaugh contends that neither alternative is acceptable. He formulates an ethics that opposes the intentional killing not only of medically “marginal” humans but also of depersonalized or criminalized enemies. Offering a philosophy of the person that embraces the undeveloped, the wounded, and the dying, he proposes ways to recover a personal ethical stance in a global society that increasingly devalues the individual.

This book offers a powerful, challenging view of the human person for the modern world as a basis for ethical decision making, especially on life-and-death issues . . . We have much to learn from Father John Kavanaugh. He is insightful and learned, and his passionate concern for the dignity of human beings flows from every page.

National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly

A richly insightful and provocative exploration of the diverse ideologies invented to justify degrading or taking human life.

Choice

All college and seminary libraries need this prophetic book in their collections.

Ethics

[Kavanaugh’s] book is challenging, moving, and provocative.

—Jean Bethke Elshtain, former Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics, University of Chicago Divinity School

A thoughtful, passionate, and contemporary defense of the human person.

—Charles J. Dougherty, president, Duquesne University

John F. Kavanaugh, SJ is a professor of philosophy at Saint Louis University. He is the author of Following Christ in a Consumer Society and The Word Embodied. He writes the “Ethics Notebook” column for the publication, America.

Product Details

  • Title: Fundamental Issues in Moral Theology
  • Series Editor: James F. Keenan
  • Series: Moral Traditions Series
  • Publisher: Georgetown University Press
  • Volumes: 17
  • Pages: 4,484

About James F. Keenan

James F. Keenan has been a Jesuit of the New York Province since 1970 and an ordained priest since 1982. He is a member of the board of directors for the Catholic Theological Society of America, a fellow of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Humanities at the University of Edinburgh, and a fellow of the Center of Theological Inquiry at Princeton. He has published numerous articles in scholarly journals including Theological Studies, Journal of Moral Theology, and the Asian Christian Review. His published books include The Ethics of the Word: Voices in the Catholic Church Today, Moral Wisdom: Lessons and Texts from the Catholic Tradition, and Goodness and Rightness in Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologiae.