The Fundamental Questions of Our Lives

Wolfgang Huber
Translated by Brian McNeil

"Highly recommended for those who are searching for constructive ethical principles in the service to human life today. "
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In the twenty-first century the basic questions of ethics are no longer the abstract terms of ethical theory, but the concrete and burning issues related to the influence of life sciences, the impact of a globalized economy, and the consequences of present decisions for the future of humankind. Ethics: The Fundamental Questions of Our Lives analyzes twenty ethical issues that address education and culture, labor and economy, the environment and sustainability, democracy and cosmopolitanism, peace and war, and life and death. Each chapter describes a concrete example showing the relevance of the fundamental ethical question, then provides an explanation of how one can think through possible responses and reactions. Huber emphasizes the connections between personal, professional, and institutional ethics and demonstrates how human relationships lie at the center of our ethical lives. His aim is to articulate a theology of what he calls "responsible freedom" that transcends individualistic self-realization and includes communal obligations.

Table of Contents

Translator's Note

1. What is Ethics About?
1. Life in Common: Does the Family Have a Future?
3. Human Dignity: Is There Such a Thing as a “Trial Pregnancy”?
4. Handicap: Do We Want the Perfect Human Being?
5. Basic Needs: Isn’t Eating Too a Moral Question?
6. Poverty: How Is It Possible to Dismantle Injustice?
7. Culture: Is There Such a Thing as Cultural Basic Foodstuffs?
8. Conscience: Is It Possible to Learn Freedom of Conscience—And Protect It?
9. Responsibility: How Does One Become a World Citizen?
10. The Information Age: Do the Media Control Us?
11. Work: Do We Live to Work?
12. Profit: What Is the Economy For?
13. Science: Are We Permitted to Do Everything That We Can in Fact Do?
14. Medicine: Is There a Human Right to Health?
15. Politics: Is It Possible to Combine Power and Morality?
16. Tolerance: How Much Differentness Can We Take?
17. War and Peace: How Far Does Our Responsibility Go?
18. Intergenerational Justice: What Do We Leave Behind for Those Who Come After Us?
19. Old Age: What Does It Mean to “Honor Your Father and Your Mother”?
20. Dying: When Has the Time Come to Die?



"Far from being a rehash of the old questions with a moralistic tone, the author offers fresh comments along with just enough background for the average reader to feel comfortable. . . . This remarkable volume reflects the wisdom and experience of an elder who is steeped in social justice with much of value to offer this generation."—Catholic Books Review

"Highly recommended for those who are searching for constructive ethical principles in the service to human life today."—Touchstone

"Wolfgang Huber is a leading churchman and a brilliant public intellectual—a rare combination indeed. In his book on ethics he bridges the gap between abstract reasoning on fundamental questions and the mere expression of normative convictions. Laymen and professional ethicists alike will learn from his sensitive analyses and creative solutions of contemporary ethical problems."—Hans Joas, professor of sociology, ​Humboldt University, Berlin, and University of Chicago


Supplemental Materials


About the Author

Wolfgang Huber is a German theologian and ethicist who was professor of systematic theology at the University of Heidelberg and, later, bishop of the Evangelical Church in Germany. He retired in 2009 and is an Honorary Professor at Stellenbosch University. Huber is the author and editor of numerous books, including Violence: The Unrelenting Assault on Human Dignity and Christian Belief.

264 pp., 6 x 9

ISBN: 978-1-62616-227-3
May 2015

264 pp., 6 x 9

ISBN: 978-1-62616-165-8
May 2015

264 pp.

ISBN: 978-1-62616-166-5
May 2015

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