Practice and Improvise: A Christian Response to the Politics of Morality

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Over many years, American political theorist William E. Connolly has offered a sustained critique of the “politics of morality.” Connolly made his case initially by attacking themes in the theological writings of Augustine of Hippo. In response to Connolly’s initial challenge, this essay promotes a conception of Christian ethics that reflects other Augustinian themes than those Connolly resisted. Drawing on the work of H. Richard Niebuhr and Sam Wells, I show how Christian ethicists have developed accounts of improvised responsibility. The essay concludes that such accounts are congruent with Connolly’s vision of politics as critical pluralism based on agonistic respect.

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