Responsibility and Atonement

Responsibility and Atonement

Responsibility and Atonement

Responsibility and Atonement

Synopsis

According to how we treat others, we acquire merit or guilt, deserve praise or blame, and receive reward or punishment, looking in the end for atonement. At times we need people to forgive and show us mercy. In this study distinguished theological philosopher Richard Swinburne examines how these moral concepts apply to humans in their dealings with each other, and applies these findings determining which versions of traditional Christian doctrines--sin and original sin, redemption, sanctification, and heaven and hell--are considered morally acceptable.

Excerpt

When I benefit or harm you there are often consequences for my moral status and for what I and you and the world should do about it. I may acquire merit or guilt; it may be appropriate for you or others to reward or punish me; or I may need to make atonement for what I have done, and it may then be good that you should forgive me. The first and longer part of this book is concerned with such moral notions, with merit, guilt, praise, blame, reward, punishment, mercy, gratitude, atonement, resentment, and forgiveness; with their logical relations to each other and with the conditions for their correct application to people in their dealings with one another. They are notions to many of which, with the obvious exception of punishment, moral philosophers of recent centuries have given relatively little attention. All these notions, and especially praise and blame, may appear to have application only on the assumption that in some sense people are responsible for their actions; and so I shall need to investigate anew the well-worn question of whether people are responsible for their actions if and only if they are not causally necessitated (e.g. by their genes or their environment) to act as they do. Further, praise and blame are appropriate to actions in so far as the agents do what is morally good or morally wrong or what they believe to be morally good or morally wrong. So I shall need also to investigate what moral goodness and obligation consist in (not what actions are morally good, but what moral goodness in an action amounts to), and how it is that agents can fail to do what they believe to be morally the best thing to do.

Such is the scope of Part I. I hope that it will be of interest to moral philosophers and students of moral philosophy, quite apart from the consequences which I seek to draw in Part II from the results of Part I. Nevertheless, the results of Part I do have consequences for theology, and I seek to draw those out in Part II. Once we have got clear about how such notions as merit and reward, guilt, atonement and forgiveness apply to dealings between people in general, we can then go on to examine how they would apply to dealings between humans and God. (I shall in future sometimes use . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.