Doing Ethics in a Pluralistic World: Essays in Honour of Roger C. Hutchinson

By Roger C. Hutchinson; Phyllis D. Airhart et al. | Go to book overview

11
ARE CLERGY ETHICS A MATTER
OF COMMON SENSE? 1
CHRISTOPHER LIND

Preface

When I began my life as a graduate student, it was my privilege to serve for five years as teaching assistant to Roger Hutchinson. The class, at the University of Toronto, was “Introduction to Religious Ethics,” and it was there that I was schooled in what we all came to call “The Method.” The genealogy of the method is elaborated elsewhere in this festschrift, in particular Hutchinson's own debt to Gibson Winter. However, there are certain sensibilities associated with his manner of clarifying the roots of moral conflict that may not be apparent to the casual reader.

Like many contemporary ethicists, Hutchinson thinks of Christian social ethics as an inherently interdisciplinary field of inquiry. Every social question requires dialogue with other social sciences in order for all aspects of the problem to be understood. Hutchinson's own training was first in engineering and then in sociology, and it has been that latter discipline with which he has been more frequently in conversation. However, the sensibility characteristic of his use of “The Method” is one I associate with the discipline of cultural anthropology. His analysis of opposing moral arguments requires an understanding from the inside. Sometimes, Hutchinson would invite a controversial speaker to

Notes to chapter 11 are on pp. 236–37.

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