Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 2006


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name





McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

David F. Kelly

Committee Member

Aaron L. Mackler

Committee Member

James P. Bailey

Committee Member

James P. Hanigan


Christian Faith, Engelhardt, Euthanasia, Hauerwas, McCormick, Public Moral Discourse, Universal Health Care


This dissertation asks, "What is the proper role of the Christian and the Christian community in the ethical arena of a pluralistic society?" The inherently social nature of human beings means that all ethical judgments regarding right and wrong and the good of the human person have social implications. This is also true of ethical judgments of a religious or theological nature. This dissertation examines how faith "in-formed" ethical judgments function in a society of diverse faith commitments by examining some of the different understandings of the role of faith in the ethics H. Tristram Engelhardt, Jr., Stanley Hauerwas, and Richard A. McCormick. This is done so as to illustrate the impact that their different understandings of the role of Christian faith in ethics have on the way that they understand Christian ethics functioning in the public moral discourse.

To examine the issue of the role of religiously "informed" ethical judgments within a religiously pluralistic society, this dissertation examines: the ethical methodology of the three ethicists, their view of Christian ethics, their understanding of how these religiously informed ethical judgments function in the wider society, and their treatment of the issues of euthanasia and universal healthcare. The comparison of the three ethicists begins with an examination of their understanding of the nature of ethics. It then examine how each of these ethicists answers fundamental questions regarding the role of Christian faith in ethics. The final section of this methodological consideration examines their understanding of the notion of public theology. Following the methodological section, the dissertation examines the positions of Engelhardt, Hauerwas, and McCormick on the issues of euthanasia and universal healthcare. This examination illustrates how the different methodological approaches of these three authors manifest themselves in the actual treatment of contemporary ethical issues. The unique contribution to theology that this dissertation makes is a thorough examination of the effect that different positions regarding the role of faith in ethical judgments have on the understanding of the proper role that the Christian and the Christian community ought to play in the ethical arena of contemporary pluralistic society.