Recent allegations concerning the conduct of Lord Sewel have further undermined public confidence in the House of Lords and renewed demands for its abolition or reform. Today’s edition of The Herald features an article by Prof. Nigel Biggar in which he cautions against calls to introduce a wholly elected upper chamber.
On August 6 the world marked the seventieth anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and the beginning of the atomic age. Prof. Nigel Biggar joined a discussion of the ethics of nuclear weapons on the BBC radio program “All Things Considered” with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament’s Vice President, Bruce Kent; the Reverend Guto Prys ap Gwynfor, Chairperson of Cymdeithas Y Cymod, the Fellowship of Reconciliation in Wales; and oral historian Elizabeth Chappell. The edition can be accessed from the program’s podcast platform here. Prof. Biggar also contributed an article on the question of nuclear weapons to this month’s edition of Premier Christianity.
Ongoing news reports concerning the plight of migrants in Calais and the Mediterranean have brought into renewed focus the ethical questions and policy challenges presented by immigration. Prof. Nigel Biggar recently joined Dr. Stephen Backhouse and Prof. Sajjad Rizvi to discuss these issues with Mark Dowd. A recording of the discussion can be downloaded here and further details of the exchange are available here.
How might a focus on “everyday ethics” shape the discipline and the methods of moral theology and religious ethics? What can attention to social practices teach us about moral formation, ethical citizenship, or human flourishing? What can moral theologians, philosophers, and social anthropologists learn from thoughtful and constructive engagement with each other?
These questions frame the McDonald Centre’s upcoming conference, “Everyday Ethics: A Future for Moral Theology?” to be held on 26–27 May, 2016, at the University of Oxford. The McDonald Centre, in collaboration with the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia, will welcome an esteemed group of theologians, ethicists, philosophers, and social anthropologists to explore how various disciplines might benefit from collaborative attention to the moral, spiritual, and secular practices of daily life.
Michael Banner’s recent book, Ethics of Everyday Life: Moral Theology, Social Anthropology, and the Imagination of the Human (OUP, 2014), provides our starting point. Proposing a new direction for moral theology, Banner suggests that the discipline should offer plausible and therapeutic narrations of everyday practices that take social anthropology, rather than moral philosophy, as their primary interlocutor. The conference will both critically evaluate Banner’s methodological proposal and also consider a number of everyday moral practices, including eating, learning, working, loving the neighbour, mobilizing citizens, using technology, and borrowing and spending. We anticipate a rich and fruitful dialogue as speakers and participants consider how attending to everyday moral practices such as these might shape the future of moral theology and its contribution to human flourishing.
Keynote speakers include:
- Michael Banner, Fellow and Dean of Chapel, Trinity College, University of Cambridge, author of Ethics of Everyday Life: Moral Theology, Social Anthropology, and the Imagination of the Human
- Luke Bretherton, Professor of Theological Ethics and Senior Fellow, Kenan Institute for Ethics, Duke University, author of Resurrecting Democracy: Faith, Citizenship, and the Politics of a Common Life and Christianity and Contemporary Politics
- Brian Brock, Lecturer in Moral and Practical Theology, University of Aberdeen, author of Singing the Ethos of God: On the Place of Christian Ethics in Scripture
- Molly Farneth, Assistant Professor of Religion, Haverford College
- Craig Gay, Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies, Regent College, author of Cash Values: The Value of Money, the Nature of Worth
- Eric Gregory, Professor of Religion, Princeton University, author of Politics and the Order of Love: An Augustinian Ethic of Democratic Citizenship, and What Do We Owe Strangers? Globalization and the Good Samaritan (forthcoming)
- Jennifer Herdt, Gilbert L. Stark Professor of Christian Ethics, Yale University, author of Putting on Virtue: The Legacy of the Splendid Vices
- Philip Lorish, Director, Project on Vocation and the Common Good, New Cities Common / Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, University of Virginia
- Charles Mathewes, Carolyn M. Barbour Professor of Religious Studies, University of Virginia, author of A Theology of Public Life and The Republic of Grace
- Rachel Muers, Senior Lecturer in Christian Ethics, University of Leeds, author of Living for the Future: Theological Ethics for Coming Generations, and co-author, Theology on the Menu: Asceticism, Meat and Christian Diet
- Joel Robbins, Sigrid Rausing Professor of Social Anthropology, Trinity College, University of Cambridge, author of Becoming Sinners: Christianity and Moral Torment in a Papua New Guinea Society
- Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury; Member of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards; former treasurer of Enterprise Oil PLC; author of Can Companies Sin?: “Whether”, “How” and “Who” in Company Accountability
Registration details for the conference will be forthcoming.
This month’s newsletter from the Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics features an incisive report by doctoral researcher Matthew Anderson on the annual conference hosted and organised by the McDonald Centre last month.
In May’s edition of the Scottish Review Nigel Biggar advances a detailed case in favour of preserving the UK’s nuclear deterrent in the form of the Trident submarine fleet. The issue may prove to be pivotal in any forthcoming negotiations between the Labour Party and the Scottish National Party after today’s General Election. For details of the symposium on this issue organised by the McDonald Centre in March, please see here.