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The Love of Power

  • William Schweiker
Chapter
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Part of the New Approaches to Religion and Power book series (NARP)

Abstract

In the following pages I want to address a question at the intersection of authority, power, and religion. How can and ought we to speak about moral authority, that is, the authority of norms, ideals, and values in the responsible life. The focus of my reflections is the “sources of normativity,” as Christine Korsgaard has called it.1 In contrast to Korsgaard and many others as well, my argument does not center on the values that individuals or communities make and impose on the world, the stance of the “love of power” as denoted in the title of these reflections. Rather, moral normativity, I contend, has to be understood with respect to responsibility toward what makes us human. To ask about the sources of normativity is then just to ask about the character of the claim that moral responsibility makes on persons and even communities. Responsibility designates the practice of the moral life. The account of responsibility outlined below is set within a theological context, and so is the relation between the God of Christian faith and the moral space of human life. The task of theological ethics, accordingly, is to articulate and analyze the structures of lived reality in relation to the divine and thereby to interpret the ultimate environment within which we must responsibly orient our lives.

Keywords

Social Contract Moral Normativity Moral Life Moral Authority Christian Faith 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Christine M. Korsgaard, The Sources of Normativity, ed. O. O’Neill (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    On hermeneutical realism see William Schweiker, Responsibility and Christian Ethics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995)Google Scholar
  3. William Schweiker, Theological Ethics and Global Dynamics: In the Time of Many Worlds (Oxford: Blackwell, 2004).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Maria Antonaccio, “Moral Truth” in The Blackwell Companion to Religious Ethics, ed. William Schweiker (Oxford: Blackwell, 2005), 27–35.Google Scholar
  5. Kevin Jung, Christian Ethics and Common Sense Morality: An Intuitionist Account (New York: Routledge, 2014).Google Scholar
  6. 3.
    Jonathan Glover, Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999), 405Google Scholar
  7. 4.
    There is considerable literature on divine command ethics. See, for instance, Philip Quinn, “The Recent Revival of Divine Command Ethics” in Philosophy andPhenomenological Research 50, supplement (Fall 1990), 47–64; Robert M. Adams, The Virtue of Faith and Other Essays in Philosophical Theology (New York: Oxford, 1987)Google Scholar
  8. Divine Command Morality: Historical and Contemporary Readings, ed. Janine Marie Idziak (New York: Edwin Mellon, 1980)Google Scholar
  9. William Schweiker, Power, Value and Conviction: Theological Ethics in the Postmodern Age (Cleveland, OH: Pilgrim Press, 1998).Google Scholar
  10. 5.
    On this topic see Robin W. Lovin, Christian Realism and the New Realities (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 6.
    See John Rawls, Political Liberalism, 2nd ed. (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005).Google Scholar
  12. 7.
    Richard Swinburne, Responsibility and Atonement (Oxford: Clarendon, 1989), 123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 9.
    One thinks here of so-called Radical Orthodoxy. For a brief account, see Radical Orthodoxy, eds. J. Milbank, C. Pickstock, G. Ward (London: Routledge, 1999).Google Scholar
  14. 10.
    Charles Taylor, A SecularAge (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007).Google Scholar
  15. 12.
    Immanuel Kant, Critique of Practical Reason, trans. L. B. White (Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill, 1956), 129Google Scholar
  16. 13.
    For an elaboration and defense of this claim see William Schweiker, “Consciousness and the Good: Schleiermacher and Contemporary Theological Ethics” in Theology Today 56, 2 (1999): 180–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 16.
    Czeslaw Milosz, To Begin Where I Am: Selected Essays, ed. B. Carpenter and M. G. Levine (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2001), 327.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    On this see, Elizabeth Kolbert, The Sixth Extinction:An Unnatural History (New York: Henry Holt, 2014)Google Scholar
  19. E. O. Wilson, The Social Conquest of Earth (New York: Liveright, 2012).Google Scholar
  20. 19.
    See also Jürgen Habermas, TheFuture ofHumanNature (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2003).Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    James M. Gusafson, A SenseoftheDivine: TheNaturalEnvironmentfrom a Theocentric Perspective (Cleveland, OH: Pilgrim Press, 1994), 58.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    I have developed the idea of the “integrity of life” in various books and articles. For two recent statements see William Schweiker, Dust That Breathes: Christian Faith and the New Humanisms (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. David E. Klemm and William Schweiker, Religion and the Human Future: An Essay on Theological Humanism (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2008).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    See, Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell, American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2010)Google Scholar
  25. Charles Taylor, A Secular Age (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of the Harvard University Press, 2007)Google Scholar
  26. Rajeev Bhargava, ed. Secularism and Its Critics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998)Google Scholar
  27. Jose Casanova, Public Religion in the Modern World (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1994)Google Scholar
  28. Talal Asad, Formations of the Secular: Christianity, Islam, Modernity (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2003).Google Scholar
  29. 25.
    See Paul Tillich, The Dynamics of Faith (New York: HarperCollins, 2001).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Joshua Daniel and Rick Elgendy 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • William Schweiker

There are no affiliations available

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