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First 5 Weeks - Key Concepts

by: Kirsten Notetaker

First 5 Weeks - Key Concepts

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Kirsten Notetaker
Lewis University

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Christian Ethics
Dr. Sever
Class Notes
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This 9 page Class Notes was uploaded by Kirsten Notetaker on Monday October 3, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to at Lewis University taught by Dr. Sever in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 6 views.


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Date Created: 10/03/16
CHRISTIAN ETHICS – STUDY OF MORALITY BASED ON THE  EXPERIENCE AND RESOURCES OF A CHRISTIAN – Aristotle puts  things into action and the Christians (we) respond to it  THEO 31000 ­­  Exam #1 STUDY GUIDE (25% of the course grade): I. Matching: Can you match the terms below with the appropriate definition/description on  a test? (0.5 point for each correct answer; 6.0 points possible on this part of the test) Anthropology Aretaic Deontology Epistemology Ethics Happiness Morality Natural Law Normative Theory Procedural Relativism Teleology Anthropology ­ a description about the human being, their place in the world, and the moral-ness of existence that is shared among other human beings Ethics ­ analyzing a situation and deciding what is the best (most ethical) thing to do, there are different areas of life for ethics to be applied, different types for group membership, writing about morality, "code" for groups, how you act, the sum of an individual’s experience Normative theory ­  a means of assessing how bad or how good the morality of a situation that is perceptual in nature Aretaic ­ Focuses on the intention and the will of the ethical subject. An action is right, or wrong, based on a consideration of the ethical subject's character (their virtues and/or vices) Happiness   ­  Aristotle,   sense   of   fulfillment,   being  at   one  with  one’s   existence.   Idea  of   moral anthropology, Augustine, and Aristotle  Procedural ­ A reflection of postmodern society. Acknowledges our global, multicultural, morally pluralistic society. Sees that normative theories give us a perspective, an angle of understanding, but there are even variances of interpretation within a given normative theory and its specific sub-school of thought Deontology ­ Focuses on the means used Morality ­ set of your morals, following them, not everyone's are the same, different morals are applied to various aspects of life, your choice, passed on through culture and society, we feel it is right or just, how you feel Relativism – the basic inability, or impossibility of understanding the truth  Epistemology ­  Basic capacity for human beings to understand reality, we possess intelligence, we then see our moral obligations, scripture and revelation are not the only ways of knowing the truth Natural law – a method or way of doing ethics, example of realist epistemology, starts in ancient Greece – moral existence is living in accordance with nature, makes all things flourish, flourishment and happiness, what nature lays out for existence  Teleology ­ Focuses on the ends and consequences of a human beings actions II. Short Answer:  Please respond to only four of the six questions below on the test.  Read the questions carefully.  Please answer each question chosen succinctly in as little four to eight sentences. I stop grading once the requisite number of questions has been graded (2.0 points for each question responded to correctly; 8.0 pts possible on this section of the test). A. What is the meaning, or significance, of The Abolition of Man in terms of Christian ethics? Relativism  Chapter 1: C.S. Lewis "The Abolition of Man"  Connecting with the world around us  Being fact based in your writing  What people say about things are just their own feelings they are projecting outwards  No moral truth  Emotions can misguide us  Richard Rorty - no happiness, human beings life a lie, we make up who we want to be, our life is a projection we have made up  Truth is difficult or unable to be known  Author presents the problem of relativism  Problems of relativism in modern day society  Be mindful of how you talk about truth and reality  The truth is something that can be discerned through light of reason  Many people share this truth  He calls the truth the Tao  Christianity is suspicious of meta-ethical relativism  The ultimate truth of existence is revealed to us through Jesus – the Tao became man (Jesus)  Our religious tradition is based upon Jesus, the divine son of God  There is such thing as truth B. What is the meaning, or significance, of the selections from Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics in terms of Christian ethics? He provides us with the moral anthropology of happiness, all HB’s seek happiness, there is a moral core to existence = the sense of fulfillment. Emphasizes the importance of cultivating virtue, or goods in our lives that bring us closer to fulfillment. Virtues are developed over time. Vices are virtues that are unpolished. Emphasis on the socialness of the HB, we are part of a community, we recognize the benefits and empowerment that comes from having friends. They can help us to be happy.  Example – friends push each other to work out harder, you get better effects with the encouragement of others, having other people help push you and make you better along the way is beneficial  Disagrees with Augustine.  C. What is the meaning, or significance, of the selections from Augustine’s The City of God in terms of Christian ethics?  What is Augustine trying to tell us? o One city believes in God, the other city believes in themselves and their own desires and needs o People in the other city become fools for worshiping men because they lose the ability of seeking a higher power o Aristotle follows the doctrine of Christian doctrine, does not agree with the term "theology" - relates it back to the Greeks o True fulfillment of the human being comes from faith in God o The human being's happiness rests in God o Happiness also depends on your attentiveness towards God in your life D. What is the meaning, or significance, of the selections from either I Corinthians 12 or Galatians 5 in terms of Christian ethics? 1 Corinthians 12  This chapter of Corinthians is separated into three main parts: unity and variety, one body, many parts, and the application to Christ. In the first section Paul describes the different ways the spirit can work within each person, next he makes an analogy about body parts, and finally relates it back to his first section and explains how this relates to our relationship between us and the Lord. Essentially, Paul believes that we all play an essential role in our faith to the Lord, we are all essential and purposeful. Paul believes that we all receive different kinds of gifts from the Spirt, we all are called to do different things in service to the Lord, much like each part of our body performs a different function for us. Being different, or having a different gift, makes us unique and will help us in our own way. All gifts the Spirit bestows upon each of us are essential to serving the Lord on Earth and in Heaven. As each part of the body needs the help of others, we too need help from each other. And the combination of all people make up the body of Christ. We are all the body of Christ, we all have different and special gifts to offer and services to provide to our “other parts” or our fellow humans within Christ. Our differences along with our different roles are something to celebrate. I think Paul wants us to honor these differences and know that even though we are different, we are all united and part of a whole: Christ. E. What is the meaning, or significance, of Aquinas’s Natural Law in terms of Christian ethics?  Natural law o In accordance with realist epistemology o Greek o Relativism o Natural law that is according to nature, basic idea that there is an intelligible order to every thing in nature, there are important things to observe and live accordingly with o What are your obligations to live in accordance with nature? o Aristotle - there is a reason for everything's existence, when you live for your reason, there is a harmony in nature o Living contrary to nature = susceptible to misfortune o Example: having a baby from IVF is going against God's will (nature) - conception is supposed to be natural and God's will/work o Natural law according to reason  Aquinas o Theologian and philosopher o "Summa Theological"  Three parts: prima pars, prima secunda & secunda secundae, tertia pars  Talks about existence and the ability to understand our existence o Enables Catholicism to adopt a realist epistemology o We have the ability to reason, and we can be of tradition in both faith and reason, they both work together hand in hand, balance each other out to keep you in line o Four kinds of law: 1 Eternal law  The divine law for all things like God's providence  The Tao (C.S. Lewis)  God has a certain intentionality/groundwork for all things  What the divine plan is, is a mystery, we can never have total knowledge about God and His plans  There are aspects to human existence that the divine plan is made somewhat more apparent - like it is somehow communicated to us 2 Scripture/revelation - divine law  The Bible was created by virtue of God's grace that can give us an glimpse of the eternal law 3 Human law  The creation of law and policy for the common good 4 Natural law  Validates the Roman idea  Natural law is what makes a good human law possible  Human law is a participation in the natural law There is a lawfulness to the world we live in, the exercise of human faith aids in natural law, our nature is from God, his “Divine Plan” only God can understand, but we get to participate in His eternal plan, we can interpret things to live within God’s divine plan Divine law – the Bible, allows us to learn a little how to live more in accordance with nature We can determine our moral obligations though reason alone, however we can get to our truths through reason without faith We need both reason and faith F. What is the meaning, or significance, of either Lewis identifying Jesus as the “Tao” or Rahner identifying Jesus as the “God­Man”? Capacity of reality being able to be understood, both writers are opponents of relativism, but find interest in Christianity and being Christian themselves, they suggest that reality can be understood, but sometimes it is difficult to get at because we don’t have the full sense of the good, we all make decisions that are approximations of the Tao. The fullest truth, the truth that is God, is revealed to us through Jesus, Jesus is the Tao, Jesus is the Way. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the light.  Ethics can be communicated to us through faith.  III. Long Answer:  Please respond to only one of the two questions below on the test.  Read the questions carefully.  Please answer each question chosen in one to two pages. (Paper will be provided.) I stop grading once the requisite number of questions has been graded (5.0 points possible). A. What is a normative theory?  What are some examples of normative theories?  As an ethicist how do you go about using normative theories?  Normative theory - a means of assessing how bad or how good the morality of a situation that is perceptual in nature o Primarily it is a critically reflective means of thinking about human intentional actions observed in reality of those that are proposed o Engaging in the use of normative theories, helps to determine what one ought to do (because the action is good and should be pursued) or ought not to do (because the action is evil and should be avoided)  All intentional human actions: o intentions --> means --> ends -->consequences will  Diagram explained: o Human beings search for purpose and meaning in life, that which one identifies as bringing fulfillment serves as the basis of the human's intentions o Human beings use the mind to discern the types of actions (like the means) which will convey that sense of satisfaction o Without the exercise of the will, intentions and thoughts of the means constitute nothing more than "wishful-thinking." the movement of the will is what makes the human's imagination a reality o The end or ends is the consummation of the intentioned, will-driven behavior in which one finds their goals, dreams and desires actualized o Consequences are the human being's bi-products, these are things, for the better (or the worse), that the human being did not want or intend, the person may or may not had been able to foresee the consequences of their action  Focusing on different theories: o Intentions and will - Aretaic (virtue) o Means - Deontology o Ends and consequences - Teleology  Aretaic normative theory: o Aretaic (Greek: arete - virtue or excellence) o The oldest normative theory in Western thought o Focuses on the intention and the will of the ethical subject o An action is right, or wrong, based on a consideration of the ethical subject's character (their virtues and/or vices) o Famous thinkers: Plato, Aristotle, Ayn Rand, Mother Teresa, Buddha, and Jesus  Teleological normative theories: o Teleology (Greek: telos-, end, and -logia, a study of) o Evolved from modern ethical thought which perceives individuals as having the autonomy and freedom to pursue their own ends o Focuses on the ends and consequences of a human beings actions o Teleological thinkers: Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill, and Richard McCormick, SJ o Emphasis can shift from thinker to thinker o Jeremy Bentham  Utilitarianism school of teleology  "Father of Utilitarianism"  An Introduction to the Principles and Morals of Legislation  The greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of individuals  Quantitative analysis  Looks at society as a collection, an aggregate, of discrete individuals, the action is good/bad depending on whether it benefits the greatest number of individuals in society o John Stuart Mill  Utilitarian school of Teleology  Utilitarianism  The best happiness for the greatest number of individuals in a polity  Qualitative analysis  Looks at society as a collection of interdependent individuals, to focus on an exclusively individual level is crass, an action is good/bad depending on whether or not our common good is benefited o Richard A. McCormick, SJ  Utilitarian school of consequentialism  Doing Evil to Achieve Good  Maximize good; minimize evil  Refined qualitative analysis  Certainly individuals and community aim for ends to find fulfillment/happiness, but our actions have, for the better or worse, consequences, the ends we seek are good/bad depending on whether or not there are negative repercussions  Deontological normative theories: o Deontology (Greek: deon-, duty and -logia, a study of) o Characterized by rules, principles, duties and/or rights o Focuses on the means used o Examples of deontological thinkers are Immanuel Kant, W.D. Ross, and John Rawls o Emphasis on interpretation can shift from thinker to thinker o Immanuel Kant  Rule-based deontology (absolutist)  The Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals  The universe is animated by laws. If one were to shrink their duty to observe rules and duties, disorder would ensue: "Act only to that maxim by which you can also will that it would become a universal law."  Anal-retentive reverence for laws in and of themselves  Very rigid and strict interpretation of rules/commandments and duties  Tries to make law sacred o W.D. Ross  Rule-based deontology (non-absolutist)  The Right and the Good  Laws ought to be observed for the sake of order. Yet, laws are "pro tanto" or "prima facie." In essence, laws, rules, and duties ought to be observed unless there are mitigating circumstances. In these cases, the law is either temporarily suspended or its full force is to be minimized.  Nuanced appreciation for laws are aware of their limits in applicability o John Rawls  Rights-based deontology  A Theory of Justice  Cultural and economic/material rights like people having access to public health care  What matters is not the rules, laws, principles, etc.. But the people whom deontological principles are meant to protect. In our day and age, we should talk about right and discern whose humanity needs to be protected and enhanced with rights.  Connection of law to human dignity/human fulfillment in society  Procedural normative theories o A reflection of postmodern society o Acknowledges our global, multicultural, morally pluralistic society o Sees that normative theories give us a perspective, an angle of understanding, but there are even variances of interpretation within a give normative theory and its specific sub-school of thought o How do we decide without falling into relativism? o If, and how, a procedure is followed determine whether something is morally correct, or incorrect o "What makes something right is if the "procedure" is followed" o May endorse an amalgam of normative theories that characterize the procedure o Examples of procedural thinkers: Jurgen Habermas and H.T. Englehardt o Jurgen Habermas  Theory of Communicative Action  Citizenship invested in public discourse  Individuals are rooted in communities  Interested in the common good  It’s “We the People” and not lobbyists and special interests. We need public forums to air our concerns, despite our differences, respectfully. We need to be humble and step aside at times to allow consensus-building. When consensus has been achieved, we need to create responsive policy tailored to our situation. When policy is enacted, we can revisit and re-open discussion on the effects of policy on our community. If this process is observed the outcome is right. o H.T. Englehardt  System: Western style democracy/Western (Libertarian) political philosophy  We are entitled to pursue life, liberty, and happiness, it is our right and we should defend it  The Foundation of Bioethics  Individuals are distinct and separate from one another  We compete against one another  Poses "self-interest" (generosity & magnamity) as an arch virtue  Rule/duty aspect can't be rape, murder, or theft The best procedure is Western-styled democracy and it political liberties. Every individual is responsible for his/herself. We ought to be free form government interference and the influence of others. So we each can pursue happiness as we each see fit (so far as we do not infringe upon the life and property of others, then law should step in). So the best government is the one with the least law and the lowest taxes. If this process is observed the outcome is right. B. Using the course experience, how would you respond to a pessimist, or a skeptic, who believes any attempt at identifying moral goodness and truth is either unfair to others or simply futile.  What are the responsibilities of a good ethicist?


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