Review Of "The Giving And Taking Of Life: Essays Ethical" By J. T. Burtchaell

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Burtchaell provides a clear, engagingly written, thoughtful, and impassioned discussion of development of the central tenets of (liberal) Catholic Christian ethics. Moral wisdom, Burtchaell contends, does not derive from either moral law or ecclesiastical authority, but emerges from active reflection on the experience of those living out the traditions of a community of believers. In particular, Burtchaell develops the insight "that it is in giving and sustaining life that we come to life." As many outside the tradition from which he writes share this insight and because he appeals to considerations shared by non-Catholic, even humanistic traditions, Burtchaell's book may be read profitably by anyone interested in the controversial positions he takes on leading moral issues of the day: contraception, abortion, research on aborted fetal tissue, liberation theology, terrorism, and the relationship between law and morality. Although not a seminal work, Burtchaell's book--which comprises a set of essays each of which, though certainly connected, may be read on its own--is recommended not only for the general reader, but for moral philosophers and theologians. Recommended for all libraries.


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