Peter Singer and Christian Ethics: Beyond Polarization

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Interaction between Peter Singer and Christian ethics, to the extent that it has happened at all, has been unproductive and often antagonistic. Singer sees himself as leading a 'Copernican Revolution' against a sanctity of life ethic, while many Christians associate his work with a 'culture of death.' Charles Camosy shows that this polarized understanding of the two positions is a mistake. While their conclusions about abortion and euthanasia may differ, there is surprising overlap in Christian and Singerite arguments, and disagreements are interesting and fruitful. Furthermore, it turns out that Christians and Singerites can even make common cause, for instance in matters such as global poverty and the dignity of non-human animals. Peter Singer and Christian ethics are far closer than almost anyone has imagined, and this book is valuable to those who are interested in fresh thinking about the relationship between religious and secular ethics.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
" attempt to find common ground between the world champion of preference utilitarianism, Prof Peter Singer and the global bastion of natural law ethics, the Catholic church, which is both scholarly and yet full of surprises and of interest to ethicists in general and not just those in the camps at the heart of the analysis.... the author, a Catholic professor of theology at Fordham University, New York gets a cover commendation from the very man he puts under the spotlight.... readers who are only acquainted with the media stereotypes of Catholicism and Singer will find much here to challenge their previous complacencies about what both believe..."
—Dr. Trevor Stammers, BioCentre (Bioethics)

"...The book is a creative and helpful reframing of the discourse surrounding Singer's work.... the book provides an excellent and accessible analysis of current debates surrounding issues such as euthanasia and abortion.... It's a provocative book that should be widely read, and one that is worthy of sustained conversation."
—Rob Vischer, Mirror of Justice

"Philosophy makes progress through criticism that is based on a sound grasp of the position under scrutiny, acknowledging its strengths as well as seeking to expose its weaknesses. Charles Camosy does exactly that, which is why, despite the deep disagreements between us, I regard Peter Singer and Christian Ethics as a valuable contribution to philosophy in general, and to applied ethics in particular."
—PETER SINGER, Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics, Princeton University, and Laureate Professor, University of Melbourne

"Both critics and supporters of the views of Peter Singer will find Camosy's book a valuable read. His comparison of the views of Singer and the Catholic Church covers a wide range of topics including abortion, euthanasia, treatment of the poor, and ethical theorizing itself. Camosy's writing is clear; he is thoroughly familiar with the writings of Singer and related texts, and his analysis is provocative."
—ROBERT BAIRD, Professor of Philosophy at Baylor University, Texas

"This important work by one of the most intriguing voices in a new generation of moral theologians, while defending the profound and prophetic truth of a Christian theological vision, shows the radical potential of Catholic moral teaching by pushing it toward greater specificity and consistency."
—JULIE HANLON RUBIO, Associate Professor of Christian Ethics, Saint Louis University

"...Overall, this book is well written and in stylistic resonance with Peter Singer's work. It mediates between a pedagogical and academic text and deserves to be widely read and discussed."
—Celia Deane-Drummond, The Tablet

"...speak movingly of the wonder elicited by the beauty of nature...."
—CLARITAS, Journal of Dialogue & Culture

"...this book will be a first stop for further work exploring the relationship between Peter Singer and Christian ethics.... overall, I think this book is a success, and highly recommend it."
—Russell DiSilvestro, California State University-Sacramento, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"...the result of an application of a way of thinking about ethics that many people find attractive.... Camosy is right to think that Christian ethicists have good reason to engage seriously with Singer, the better to understand their disagreements..."
—Peter Wicks, Villanova University, First Things

"...This book concludes by considering how Singer and Christian ethicists might clarify one another's thinking and practice.... Camosy's approach of respectfully but critically examining Singer's positions, acknowledging strengths and identifying failures could serve as a fruitful model for engagement in polarized world , where sentimentality and caricature too often replace thoughtful debate."
—Brian Volck, Christian Century

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521149334
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 4/12/2012
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 286
  • Sales rank: 1,308,656
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles C. Camosy is Assistant Professor of Theology at Fordham University, New York. He is author of Too Expensive to Treat?: Finitude, Tragedy and the Neonatal ICU (2010).
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements; Introduction; 1. Abortion; 2. Euthanasia and the end of life; 3. Non-human animals; 4. Duties to the poor; 5. Ethical theory; 6. Singer's shift?; Conclusion; Bibliography; Appendices.
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