Towards an ecumenical ethic : reconciling the work of Germain Grisez, Stanley Hauerwas and Oliver O'Donovan
This thesis is concerned to further the renewal of moral theology in an age of ecumenism by drawing three of its important contemporary protagonists - Germain Grisez, Stanley Hauerwas and Oliver O'Donovan - into an ecumenical dialogue in the hope of reconciling their different approaches. This dialogue occurs in five stages. First, the question, what makes Christian ethics Christian? is considered using O'Donovan's and Hauerwas' emphasis on the distinct epistemological foundations and content of a Christian ethic as a benchmark. An interpretation of Grisez's natural law ethic is then offered which satisfies these conditions. Secondly, the relationship between O'Donovan's and Grisez's essentially realist theories is considered. The difference between them emerges as being primarily one of emphasis, with O'Donovan giving priority to the need for a Christian ethic to be unequivocally realist, while Grisez focuses on the need for sound philosophical argument. A reconciliation of their approaches which seeks to do justice to both sets of concerns is then suggested in the form of a Christian realist theory. Thirdly, a careful interpretation of Hauerwas' narrative ethic, which suggests that it is less subjectivist than is usually thought to be the case, provides the basis for its reconciliation with a Christian realist theory as a complementary form of ethics. An exploration of the possibilities and limitations of narrative for moral deliberation suggests that such a complementary relationship is necessary. Fourthly, the possibility of such a relationship is secured when an analysis of Grisez's theory reveals that it is capable of meeting Hauerwas' concerns about the centrality of character, the particularity of the person in shaping moral obligations and the place of the emotions in the moral life. Finally, it is concluded that the ecumenical ethic towards which the thesis moves will be one which describes this complementary operation of a Christian realist theory and a narrative ethic from the perspective of Christian worship.