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Contemporary Catholic Ethics and Modern Social Analysis

Catholic Theological Society of America
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Workshop Reports 215 CONTEMPORARY CATHOLIC ETHICS AND MODERN SOCIAL ANALYSIS THEOLOGICAL ETHICS AND CIVIL SOCIETY Presenters: Peter Casarella, Catholic University of America Cathy Halvey, Universities of Ceara and Amazonas, Brazil William O'Neill, Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley Michael Schuck, Loyala University Chicago Todd Whitmore, University of Notre Dame and Princeton Center of Theological Inquiry Organizer: Philip Chmielewski, Loyola University Chicago Whitmore defines civil society as that public space where the varying under- standings of the common good can engage one another. Structures that support the U.S. version of civil society include the limited state and voluntary associations, as well as given or received associations, in particular, religious associations. Several discursive traditions support the structural components and their specific combination in U.S. civil society. Some of these traditions of thought champion individual freedom and equality; some promote communal commitment. Both individual freedom and communal commitment are requisite in a lived culture for the well functioning of civil society. The weakening of the traditional ways of thinking and evaluating which have promoted communal commitment has led to a decay of U.S. civil society. Impelled by the require- ments of the market and attempting to track the cyclical variations of the market, citizens must orient themselves to highly mobile lives. This mobility is the primary social condition that favors individual freedom and erodes engagement in communities. In an attempt to substitute for communal commitment in order to maintain conditions which make civil society possible, citizens use rights language to guide social interaction. The requirements of the market direct the state toward rights thinking away from habits of participation. In order to effectively and usefully contribute to public discourse at this juncture, Catholi- cism must "revitalize its concept of the co

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