Utilitarianism’s Epistemic Space

Utilitarianism’s Epistemic Space

I read the previous two posts on this blog with great interest, and I welcome this opportunity to bring a theological perspective to bear on some of those discussions. In this piece, I want to discuss a passing comment from Trevor Stammers’ post, in which he acknowledges the necessity of employing utilitarian reasoning when faced with the ethics of triage. This acknowledges situations whereby an ethical philosophy considered woefully problematic in normal circumstances, might be permitted due to the extreme complexity at play.


Covid-19 and international solidarity

principles of cooperation

What has Catholic Social teaching to say about the Covid-19 pandemic? As the Church reflects on both the ethics of healthcare resource allocation and the running of the economy, there is quite a lot for us to say; but here I simply want to look at how the United Kingdom’s international policies, and the attitudes underlying them, have affected the country’s response to the crisis. Some policies have been mistaken because they stem from flawed moral attitudes. We have a duty to question and challenge policies: while we are trying to ‘pull together’ governments and public authorities need to be held to account, particularly if mistakes have cost lives. For Christians this is in the best tradition of the Old Testament prophets.


Covid-19: Love in a time of War

covid 19 Healthcare worker

In an open letter to his parish of St Mark’s, Cambridge weeks before the Government’s “Stay at home” message was issued, Prof of New Testament, Richard Bauckham wrote “During the past week I have had the weird sense of a society preparing for an imminent outbreak of war…The analogy with war came to me last week and I might then have thought it over-dramatic. But now everyone is using it. The difference from the great wars is that the “home front” is now the front.”


Integral human development - not just about the money

Photo by Joshua Sortino on Unsplash

It seems slightly strange to be posting on this blog in the middle (or, perhaps, at the beginning) of a global pandemic and national emergency about a subject which is not coronavirus. All intellectual and political discussion seems to have converged on that subject. Nevertheless, for those interested in other news, views and topical discussion based in Catholic social thought, we shall continue this blog on a range of issues, though next week we shall look at some aspects of the corona virus crisis.


Catholic Social Thought in Education – Building the Collegium

Three Students look and laugh at a laptop

The term “Catholic social thought” would normally bring about discussion of issues related to politics, social and welfare policy, overseas aid and climate change, to name just a few well-trodden contemporary topics. Schooling is often thought of as a topic separate from Catholic social teaching, perhaps because of the large volume of distinct work produced on this topic by dioceses and the Vatican. However, the same issues apply to schooling as apply to (for example) healthcare. There are questions of the policy framework we should have for its delivery (the Church teaches that Catholic schools should not be discriminated against, as compared with state schools, when it comes to funding); who has responsibility (the principle of subsidiarity applies); how we should ensure that all children have an adequate education; and so on. This short piece will sketch out two further ways in which Catholic social thought could profitably influence the global networks of Catholic schools.


The late scholastics and globalisation


While the understanding of Catholic social thought as a structured and articulated body of thought is relatively recent, its roots go back much further. The work of St. Thomas Aquinas is certainly pivotal in this regard (and merits its own analysis), but in several matters the first consistent reflection on applied global economic and social issues from a Catholic perspective ought to be credited to the late scholastics and particularly to the so-called School of Salamanca.


Solidarity in an ageing world

Francis Davis meets The Pope

The world is ageing. By 2050 globally there will be more over 60’s than there under 14’s. With that shift come real changes for the Churches that they are only just beginning to consider.  No wonder then a week ago the Christian relief and development agency Tearfund published my major study into the needs of older people in Rwanda. Not surprising then that just after the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life in the Vatican staged its first ever Congress on the Pastoral Care of the Elderly to explore what challenges the future might hold.


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