Morality and Situation Ethics

Morality and Situation Ethics


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Is morality relative? Does it depend on one’s perspective or on external circumstances? It has become popular, even commonplace, to assert that what is moral is dependent on one’s situation.

Dietrich von Hildebrand saw this trend coming, and at the earliest outset he authored this book as a refutation of “situation ethics” and an affirmation of the unchanging and universal call of true morality.

The book takes up the central challenge of situation ethics to argue, definitively, that some actions are always and in every situation wrong.

But Hildebrand is sensitive to the special circumstances of individual people’s lives, and he does far more than simply offer judgment. He leads us first to understand the allure of “self-righteousness,” of “the tragic sinner,” and of “sin mysticism,” and how these can obscure true morality.


"Through the wealth and carefulness of his analyses, along with the skill with which he discovers the kernels of truth and beauty wherever they are to be found, von Hildebrand uncovers the errors of false situation ethics. But at the same time, he finds fault also with self-righteous, complacent mediocrity, and juridical moralism that is false and lifeless. Thus he clearly sets forth the uniqueness of Christian morality." – Bernard Häring

"The Augustinian tradition is a great one in Christian philoso­phy and in Dr. von Hildebrand’s work one finds an example of how alive, wholesome, and sound it can be today, and how very much in contact with what is of value in contemporary thought. Clearly all can profit very much from this work." – Germain Grisez

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781939773111
Publisher: Dietrich Von Hildebrand Legacy Project
Publication date: 07/02/2019
Pages: 222
Sales rank: 912,743
Product dimensions: 5.98(w) x 9.02(h) x 0.47(d)

Table of Contents

Foreword by John Finnis

Preface to the Second Edition (1966) by Bernard Häring xxxvii Introduction 1

chapter i ThePharisee 11

chapter ii Self-Righteousness 19

chapter iii TheTragicSinner 33

chapter iv Letter and Spirit 47

chapter v Freedom of Spirit 59

chapter vi “Felix Culpa” 77

chapter vii Person and Action 83

chapter viii SinMysticism 89

chapter ix The Christian Attitude toward Sinners 109

chapter x Basic Errors of Situation Ethics 125

chapter xi ChristianMorality 147

Appendix. Address by Pope Pius XII on Moral Law and the New Morality, April 18, 1952 163

Index 173

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