The capstone lectures of esteemed ethicist Oliver O’Donovan
What is the future of ethics? Oliver O’Donovan addresses a discipline in crisis in The Disappearance of Ethics. Based on the 2021 Gifford Lectures, this book contends that contemporary ethics has lost its object (good), frontier (time), and agent (person).
O’Donovan traces the development of these concepts from Greek philosophy through early Christianity, the Enlightenment, and into the modern era. Engaging with a range of thinkers including Aristotle, Augustine of Hippo, Max Scheler, Karl Barth, and more, O’Donovan shows how ethics has lost its heart and how the field can regain its purpose. He completes his lectures by integrating theology and philosophy to recover ethics. Contemplating theological concepts such as creation, divine law, and justification undergirds ethics by generating “existential wonder.”
With characteristic warmth and scholarly precision, O’Donovan reinvigorates ethical argument with theological insight. Scholars and students of Christian ethics will find his lectures equally provocative and inspiring.
Oliver O'Donovan is a fellow of the British Academy and professor emeritus of Christian ethics and practical theology at the University of Edinburgh. His other books include The Desire of the Nations, The Ways of Judgment, and Resurrection and Moral Order.
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