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


This book is about the gap between the moral demand on us and our natural capacities to meet it. John Hare starts with Kants statement of the moral demand and his acknowledgement of this gap. Hare then analyses Kants use of the resources of the Christian tradition to make sense of this gap, especially the notions of revelation, providence, and Gods grace. Kant reflects the traditional way of making sense of this gap, which is to invoke Gods assistance in bridging it. Hare goes on to examine various contemporary 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 Gods 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 sanctification. He discusses Kierkegaards account of the relation between the ethical life and the Christian life, and ends by considering human forgiveness, and the ways in which Gods forgiveness is both like and unlike our forgiveness of each other. The book is intended for those interested in both ethical theory and Christian theology.

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