Making the Connections: Essays in Feminist Social Ethics

Making the Connections: Essays in Feminist Social Ethics

Making the Connections: Essays in Feminist Social Ethics

Making the Connections: Essays in Feminist Social Ethics

Excerpt

No adequate understanding of debates about contemporary social issues can neglect the contribution of feminists. One of the major feminist theorists in religious social ethics is Beverly Wildung Harrison. Her writing, speaking, and teaching have helped ethicists do ethics, address specific social issues, and reflect on the Christian churches as a locus for moral thought. It is an occasion for rejoicing that her book on the ethics of procreative choice and now this collection of essays are available for the religious and nonreligious reading public.

Harrison's essays mark the development of a genre of feminist ethics that is motivated by social consciousness, based on a thorough-going critique of existing forms of political economy, and related to Christian tradition. For these reasons, we can identify Harrison's ethics as feminist socialist Christian ethics.

The work of no other feminist ethicist covers the range of Harrison's in this volume. Her work encompasses the social sciences, philosophy, and theology, all the while making explicit commitments to women's full dignity, a new society with class, racial, and gender justice, and a community of faith rooted in the Jesus story. The essays in this collection reflect her work in feminist ethical theory since 1972. During this time she has taught Christian ethics at Union Theological Seminary in New York. (Her address at her inauguration as full professor opens the collection.) The publication of this portion of her work demonstrates the significance of her contribution to social ethics and furthers the dialogue about what feminist ethics entail.

The diversity of thought about how Christian social ethics should be done is compounded by the diversity of thought about the foundation of feminist ethics. Although little has been published before this collection to sharpen these lines of distinction among feminists, we can allude to the nature of the differences by characterizing the approaches to feminist ethics. I focus here on differences in analyzing the roots of women's oppression and the appropriate social change strategies such analyses require; the manner of assessing the significance of biological differences between men and women; and the view of the possibility of re-

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