THE MORAL CHOICE by Daniel C. Maguire


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A sweeping survey of ethics--a textbook, in fact, but agreeably written and as non-technical as possible--for liberal Christians and others. Maguire teaches theology at Marquette and has intellectual roots in Catholic tradition, especially Scholasticism, but his thinking has carried him a long way from the Church's moral absolutes. He grounds his system in the ""experience of the value of persons and their environment,"" rather than in religion: and he rejects religious taboos against abortion, euthanasia, extramarital sex, etc. Maguire envisions ethics as a sort of wheel, with the hub representing the expository phase and the spokes the evaluational. In the first phase we examine a given act by asking a series of critical questions about it: What is being done? By whom? How? Why? When? Where? What are the foreseeable effects? Are there any viable alternatives? Then we bring various ""processes and resources"" to bear upon the act in order to judge it: creative imagination, reason, principles, affectivity, individual and group experience, authority, comic and tragic insight. Conscience, as Maguire defines it, is not a part of this model, but rather the ""conscious self as attuned to moral values and disvalues in the concrete."" In the final analysis he gives us a carefully articulated ethical method, pragmatic and flexible, yet committed to the transcendent sacredness of human life. Maguire is more a synthesizer than an originator, but in this hefty book he has brought together a lot of very good things--broad familiarity with history, philosophy, and religion; acute sensitivity to contemporary politics and social problems; and the gifted teacher's knack of blending abstract ideas and down-to-earth examples. A prime choice for anyone interested in ethics.

Pub Date: June 23rd, 1978
Publisher: Doubleday