The Moral Gap : Kantian Ethics, Human Limits, and God's Assistance: Kantian Ethics, Human Limits, and God's Assistance

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Clarendon Press, Mar 21, 1996 - 304 pages
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Is morality too hard for human beings? Kant said it was, except with God's assistance. Contemporary moral philosophers have usually discussed the question without reference to Christian doctrine. They have either diminished the moral demand or exaggerated human moral capacity, or tried to find a substitute in nature for God's assistance. This book looks at these philosophers - from Kierkegaard to Swinburne and the author's own father, R.M. Hare - and the alternative in Christianity. - ;This book is about the gap between the moral demand on us and our matural capacities to meet it. John Hare starts with Kant's statement of the moral demand and his acknowledgement of this gap. Hare then analyses Kant's use of the resources of the Christian tradition to make sense of this gap, especially the notions of revelation, providence, and God's grace. Kant reflects the traditional way of making sense of the gap, which is to invoke God's assistance in brigding it. Hare goes on to examine various contemprary philosophers who do not use these resources. He considers three main strategies; exaggerating our natural capacities, diminishing the moral demand, and finding some naturalistic substitute for God's assistance. He argues that these strategies do not work, and that we are therefore left with the gap and with the problem that it is unreasonable to demand of ourselves a standard which we cannot reach. In the final section of the book, Hare looks in more detail at the Christian doctrines of atonement, justification, and regeneration. He discusses Kierkegaard's account of the relation between the ethical life and the Christian life, and ends by considering human forgiveness of each other. The book is intended for those interested in both ethical theory and in Christian theology. - ;this careful, rigorous contribution to the series of Oxford Studies in Theological Ethics looks prudently round the corners, investigates the blind alleys, turns over the stones, and leaves the reader intellectually stretched and well instructed ... Hare's is a worthy undertaking to remind us of the Christian dimensions to our philosophical traditions, to demonstrate "the credibility of a God who loves us enough both to demand a high standard from us and to help us to meet it". - Church Times

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