Review Of "Tragedy, Tradition, Transformism: The Ethics Of Paul Ramsey" By D. S. Long

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This is an interesting interpretation of the thinking of an important and controversial 20th-century Christian moralist. Ramsey's support of the "just war" doctrine is well known, and Long (Duke Univ.) shows how it is the focus of Ramsey's vision of Christian ethics. He does so by placing just-war issues in the wider context of Ramsey's conviction that human life is essentially tragic, that is, tangled in conflicting forces over which individuals have little effective control. This Augustinian view of human life leads to the conclusion that conflict, and thus war, is inevitable. Since humanity is immersed in conflict, considerations involved in assessing the justice of actions in war-like situations are at the heart, not the periphery, of Christian moral deliberations. Long does a distinct service in unpacking much of Ramsey's often difficult prose about these timeless issues, although he is sometimes too ready to quote Ramsey at length instead of restating the quotation more clearly. Long is also the author of Living the Discipline: United Methodist Theological Reflections on War, Civilization, and Holiness (1992). Upper-level undergraduates and above.


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