Academic journal article Theological Studies

The Future of Ethics: Sustainability, Social Justice, and Religious Creativity

Academic journal article Theological Studies

The Future of Ethics: Sustainability, Social Justice, and Religious Creativity

Article excerpt

The Future of Ethics: Sustainability, Social Justice, and Religious Creativity. By Willis Jenkins. Washington: Georgetown University, 2013. Pp. vii + 340. $34.95.

Jenkins is the foremost Protestant environmental ethicist of his generation. This, his second book, focuses on "how emerging problems of human power"--especially industrial civilization and environmental degradation--"challenge [traditional] ethical inquiry." The book is both a depiction of the problem and a constructive example of the "moral creativity" that might open "possibilities of meaningful response" (vii). J. links recent data from the natural and social sciences with theoretical frameworks, cultural critique, and theological insights in a cohesive, coherent way. For J., the minimum goal is "to pass on the capacity of future generations to forgive us ... for the risks our actions pose to the future" (316). This claim generated much discussion when I taught the book in a graduate course on ecological ethics; it deserves significant attention from philosophical and theological ethicists alike.

Individual chapters can stand alone, though the book as a whole is a complex and rewarding mosaic. Environmental ethicists should take special note of chapters that address the Anthropocene and climate change (chap. 1), sustainability science and its fissures (chap. …

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