Ethics at the Beginning of Life: A phenomenological critique (Oxford Studies in Theological Ethics)

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9780199673964: Ethics at the Beginning of Life: A phenomenological critique (Oxford Studies in Theological Ethics)
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Many of the most controversial moral decisions we face hinge upon competing descriptions of life, and never is this truer than at the beginning of life. James Mumford draws upon phenomenology (a branch of continental philosophy) to question the descriptive adequacy, the essential "purchase upon reality," of many of the approaches, attitudes and arguments which make up beginning of life ethics today. He argues that many of the most prevalent positions and practices in our late modern culture have simply failed to take into account the reality of human emergence, the particular way that new members of our species first appear in the world.

Historically, phenomenologists have been far more interested in death than in birth. Mumford therefore first develops his own phenomenological investigation of human emergence, taking leads and developing approaches from phenomenologists both French and German, both living and dead. In the second half of the book phenomenology is finally applied to ethics, and acute moral questions are divided into two kinds: first those concerning "what" it is that we are dealing; and, secondly, the more contextual "where" questions relating to the situation in which the subject is found.

Finally, although this book primarily constitutes a philosophical rather than a religious critique of contemporary ethics, with the findings from continental philosophy being brought to bear upon core convictions of English-speaking 'liberal' moral and political philosophers, Mumford concludes by exploring an alternative theological basis for human rights which might fill the vacuum created.

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About the Author:

James Mumford was formerly with the University of Oxford.

Review:


"A deeply sophisticated argument about the character of our relation with unborn and newborn human beings. It challenges the models that have been allowed uncritical domination in a lot of recent ethical argument; and, without emotive pleading or overheated polemic, it insists that we look afresh at assumptions around abortion and the status of the unborn person, on the grounds of solid philosophical discussion as well as offering a rich and resourceful theological context for such a new look at the issues. This is a seriously impressive work."--Rowan Williams


"Unusually perceptive and helpful. To read his argument with care is to have one's judgment sharpened and illumined...This is a work of serious philosophical argument, well worth our taking seriously." --The New Atlantis


"[Mumford's] reasoning throughout the book is quite perceptive and respectful in debating his philosophical and theological interlocutors...Mumford's book is not only a very interesting contribution to the debate on the ethics of the beginning of life, but it is also an excellent example of scholarship on Continental philosophy. The writing is accessible and informative for various types of readers, with abundant and precise references to authors of various philosophical and theological traditions." --Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews


"A remarkable piece of work." --First Things


"Finally a book that offers a way to think about abortion that is an alternative to the language of past and present discussions. Drawing on the work of Merleau-Ponty, Mumford makes it possible for us to see how a mother's experience of her child is crucial for the recognition of our joint humanity. This is a brilliant book that has implications for how we think about a wide range of questions concerning our relation to one another." --Stanley Hauerwas, Duke Divinity School


"Skilful and original, a creative description of what Mumford calls the 'extraordinary encounter' of the 'newone'. This is a contribution both to moral philosophy and to phenomenology, a rare achievement. Mumford is a scholar equally at ease in the British and Continental tradition, he opens his readers eyes to many a fact which his predecessors have left unnoticed. The book is also the work of a good stylist -- reading it is sheer pleasure." --Jean Yves Lacoste


"The book is a feat of scholarship, thoughtfully engaging with authors from a wide range of periods and disciplines. It is also a joy to read, with allusions to mythology, poetry, literature, and film artfully woven into the argument. Anyone with the slightest interest in the status of the unborn, and indeed the weakest members of society, should read this book." --Political Theology


"...Mumford's primary application of phenomenological ethics is, of course, to an applied question that is as highly charged in ideological and emotional terms as one can imagine. He handles this with much sensitivity and emotional intelligence, tools essential to developing phenomenological attunement to the emergence of the newone. All in all, despite the difficulties that doing ethics in a phenomenological key might bring, Mumford has offered us a masterly and indisputably impressive demonstration of the harmonies that can sometimes emerge." --Modern Theology


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Book Description Oxford University Press, United Kingdom, 2013. Hardback. Condition: New. New. Language: English. Brand new Book. Many of the most controversial moral decisions we face hinge upon competing descriptions of life, and never is this truer than at the beginning of life. James Mumford draws upon phenomenology (a branch of continental philosophy) to question the descriptive adequacy, the essential 'purchase upon reality', of many of the approaches, attitudes and arguments which make up beginning of life ethics today. He argues that many of the most prevalent positions and practices inour late modern culture have simply failed to take into account the reality of human emergence, the particular way that new members of our species first appear in the world. Historically, phenomenologists have been far more interested in death than in birth. Mumford therefore first develops his own phenomenological investigation of human emergence, taking leads and developing approaches from phenomenologists both French and German, both living and dead. In the second half of the book phenomenology is finally applied to ethics, and acute moral questions are divided into two kinds: first those concerning 'what' it is that we are dealing; and, secondly, the morecontextual 'where' questions relating to the situation in which the subject is found. Finally, although this book primarily constitutes a philosophical rather than a religious critique of contemporary ethics, with the findings from continental philosophy being brought to bear upon core convictions of English-speaking 'liberal' moral and political philosophers, Mumford concludes by exploring an alternative theological basis for human rights which might fill the vacuum created. Seller Inventory # AOP9780199673964

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