The Ethics of Our Climate

cover art
176 pp., 6 x 9
ISBN: 9780878405657 (0878405658)

November 1994
LC: 94-11004



The Ethics of Our Climate
Hermeneutics and Ethical Theory
William O'Neill, SJ
In this book, William O'Neill, SJ, offers an interpretation of the nature and scope of practical reasoning in light of postmodern philosophical criticism. He charts a via media between the abstract formalism of neo-Kantian morality and relativist interpretations of neo-Aristotelian ethics.

The three parts of the book treat the eclipse of the classical Aristotelian conception of practical reason; the Kantian heritage in the modern moral theories of John Rawls and R.M. Hare; and the hermeneutical retrieval of a moral interpretation of the world. Drawing upon the philosophical hermeneutics of Hans-Georg Gadamer, modern analytical philosophy, and the discourse ethics of Jürgen Habermas, O'Neill offers a critical reconstruction of practical reason which upholds the primacy of moral community while recognizing the ethical import of historical and cultural difference.

The final chapter applies the preceding hermeneutical critique to the question of the distinctiveness of Christian ethics in the writings of Karl Barth, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Josef Fuchs, and Bruno Schüller. This original contribution will be of special interest to students and teachers of moral philosophy and theology.
William O'Neill, SJ, is an associate professor of social ethics at the Jesuit School of Theology and Graduate Theological Union.
"The Ethics of Our Climate owes its richness as much to comprehensive erudition as to penetrating insight. It constitutes a critical yet sensitive retrieval of past wisdom applied to modern problems. The subtlety of the author's style matches that of his thought. His work resumes an almost forgotten tradition of ethical writing that maintains elegance of expression without compromising complexity of thought. A 'beautiful' book in all senses of the term!"—Louis Dupré, T.L. Riggs Professor of Religious Studies, Yale University