Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-viii

Contents

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pp. ix-xii

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Acknowledgment and Apology

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pp. xiii-xvi

...such as the 1987 paper given for Kent Greenawalt’s seminar at Columbia. In June 1988 John and Anne Bodner set me quietly to work in their retreat in the Jura; that summer culminated in five more weeks of writing in the stimulating environment...

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Foreword

JOHN WITTE, JR.

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pp. xvii-xxvi

...mechanical formulas. Theological narratives might well need legal norms to ground them. But legal norms also need theological narratives to guide them. Philosophical propositions might not decide concrete cases. But concrete cases cannot be decided...

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INTRODUCTION

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pp. 3-16

...reason that in drafting the Declaration of Independence Jefferson and his colleagues very deliberately declined to draw any political conclusions from the “self-evident” truth of our having been created equal. The egalitarian political option, so soon to be exercised by the French,1 was carefully considered and rejected in favor of the straightforward...

PART I

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INTRODUCTION TO PART I

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pp. 19-21

...sacred and undeniable.”) Any analysis of descriptive human equality is in fact problematic and faces serious methodological hurdles.We have already said a bit concerning method but now must expand, assisted...

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1. WHAT HAS BEEN SAID?

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pp. 22-38

...the familiar political slogans. Although the possible fact of human equality has been asserted since antiquity, there still is no set of shared analytical terms by which this claim can be attacked, defended, or even defined. “It is precisely because everyone thinks...

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2. THE HOST PROPERTY

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pp. 39-65

...human equality.” These criteria emerge from our own experience and reflection, both on what we hear on the street and on the little help to be found in the literature. In any case they seem rather obvious; they must, for we are interpreting a linguistic...

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3. MAKING THE HOST PROPERTY UNIFORM

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pp. 66-90

...What has this tale to do with human equality? Here is a set of people of varying sophistication who—at least apart from the robber—seem to choose as best they can among courses of action that vary in their practical effect from “correct” to catastrophic. Each actor...

PART II

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INTRODUCTION TO PART II

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pp. 93-100

...be glad to be excluded. Which other systematic philosophies fit or do not fit may be less clear. Some who account themselves true believers in equality may in fact hold premises about the nature of man that are incompatible with the definition. If that proves to...

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4. COULD THE ENLIGHTENMENT BELIEVE? INDIVIDUALISM, KANT, AND EQUALITY

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pp. 101-122

...insurrection in the Western conception of the moral self. His candid—even crude—style is an advantage to us. He set great store upon simplicity of method. Supposing himself to stand in the tradition of Euclid, he proceeded from axioms and theorems that...

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5. NATURE, NATURAL LAW, AND EQUALITY

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pp. 123-144

...and elaborated its answers; the Romans took it up, invested it with legal significance, and bequeathed it to the medieval theologians, philosophers, and canonists; they in...

PART III

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INTRODUCTION TO PART III

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pp. 147-147

...Christian assent. Good intention plus diligence may not so obviously add up to salvation. First, there are believers who, in addition to obtension, would insist upon various objective events such as baptism, good works, and a passing score on the Ten Commandments; second, even if obtension suffices for salvation...

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6. THE FRAMEWORK FOR A CHRISTIAN OBTENSIONALISM

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pp. 148-163

...Even to identify these problems, we need a set of premises plausibly Christian but in harmony with the structure of conventional equality—a kind of theological hypothesis. Such a framework may seem to reverse the proper Christian order of things...

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7. REPAVING THE ROAD TO HELL:THE PELAGIAN ISSUES

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pp. 164-190

...Augustine’s general outlook is familiar from the Confessions, his autobiography completed ten years after his conversion to Christianity. Writing now as a Catholic bishop, Augustine recalls his dissolute youth and the tortured path by which he was drawn...

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8. THE REPAVING PROJECT, PART II: AN EQUAL-OPPORTUNITY CREATOR

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pp. 191-214

...acted with a clear conscience; that is why I preserved thee from sinning against me, and would not let thee have intercourse with her” (Genesis 20:6). We can only guess how Abimelech’s case would have stood had God not warned him of the facts and allowed...

PART IV

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INTRODUCTION TO PART IV

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pp. 217-217

...in perfection by obtension encourages carelessness in moral judgment, threatening the common good. The descent into subjectivity may have been necessary to assure uniformity of opportunity, but, says the critic, this was too cosmic a price. The world needs its citizens...

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9. HARMONIES OF THE MORAL SPHERES

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pp. 218-231

...authority does not automatically achieve the material good that I seek; for two independent reasons the material outcome of any act of obtension is radically contingent. One is that the impact of our decisions upon the external world is unpredictable; a particular...

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10. HARVESTS OF EQUALITY

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pp. 232-260

...individual belief—possibly an important belief. This chapter assumes the existence of the necessary uniformity and asks—so what? Are humans better off for having this capacity for moral self-perfection in the same degree? Our answer is an emphatic...

NOTES

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pp. 261-348

INDEX

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pp. 349-363