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Towards an Ethics of Community

Negotiations of Difference in a Pluralist Society

Edited by James Olthuis
Subjects Religion, Philosophy, Ethics
Series Comparative Ethics Hide Details
Paperback : 9780889203396, 240 pages, February 2000

Table of contents

Table of Contents for Towards an Ethics of Community: Negotiations of Difference in a Pluralist Society, edited by James H. Olthius
Introduction: Exclusions and Inclusions: Dilemmas of Difference | James H. Olthius
Part I: Dilemmas of Difference
Plotting the Margins: A Historical Episode in the Management of Social Plurality | Robert Sweetman
Consequences of Liberalism: Ideological Domination in Rorty’s Public/Private Split | Hendrik Hart
Indoctrination and Assimilation in Plural Settings | Ken Badley
“Woman” in the Plural: Negotiating Sameness and Difference in Feminist Theory | Janet Catherina Wesselius
Religious Conflicts, Public Policy, and Moral Authority: Reflections on Christian Faith and Homosexual Rights in a Plural Society | Hendrik Hart
Rethinking the Family: Belonging, Respecting, and Connecting | James H. Olthius
Part II: Negotiations of Difference
Female Genital Mutilation: An Examination of a Harmful Traditional Practice in a Canadian Context | Lisa Chisholm-Smith
Violent Asymmetry: The Shape of Power in the Current Debate over the Morality of Homosexuality | Ronald A. Kuipers
Native Self-government: Between the Spiritual Fire and the Political Fire | George Vandervelde
On Identity and Aesthetic Voice of the Culturally Displaced | Calvin Seerveld
Notes on Contributors
Subject Index
Name Index
Notes on Contributors
Ken Badley served as the senior member in educational foundations at the Institute for Christian Studies from 1992–96. He now teaches social studies and ethics at a Christian secondary school and carries on research as a visiting research scholar at King’s University College in Edmonton, Alberta.
Lisa Chisholm-Smith completed her master’s thesis at the Institute for Christian Studies on the subject of menstruation in Western society and has a keen interest in women’s studies. She lives in the village of Bath and directs a regionally based program of adult Christian education for the Anglican Church of Canada in eastern Ontario.
Hendrik Hart is professor of philosophy at the Institute for Christian Studies, where he has taught since 1966. He has published Communal Certainty and Authorized Truth; Understanding Our World; Setting Our Sights by the Morning Star; and (with Kai Nielsen) Search for Truth in a Withering Tradition.
Ronald A. Kuipers is a Ph.D. candidate in philosophy in the joint doctoral program of the Vrije Universiteit (Free University) in Amsterdam and the Institute for Christian Studies in Toronto. He is the author of Solidarity and the Stranger: Themes in the Social Philosophy of Richard Rorty (1997) and coeditor of Walking the Tightrope of Faith: Philosophical Conversations about Reason and Religion (1999). He is concentrating on contemporary understandings of truth, rationality, and language, especially as these bear upon the themes of cultural pluralism and interreligious dialogue in the philosophy of religion.
James H. Olthius is professor of philosophical theology at the Institute for Christian Studies, where he has taught since 1968. He is the author of Facts, Values and Ethics; I Pledge You My Troth; Keeping Our Troth: Staying in Love During the Five Stages of Marriage; A Hermeneutics of Ultimacy: Peril or Promise; and recently edited Knowing Other-wise: Philosophy at the Threshold of Spirituality. He is also a psychotherapist in private practice in Toronto.
Calvin Seerveld is emeritated professor of philosophical aesthetics at the Institute for Christian Studies in Toronto. He was co-chair, 1984–1987, of the Canadian Society for Aesthetics when it was founded. His special interest is the methodology of art historiography, and his hobby is wisdom literature of the Older Testament.
Robert Sweetman is professor in the history of philosophy at the Institute for Christian Studies specializing in medieval philosophy, in particular, scholastic moral philosophy of the thirteenth century. His publications focus on the intersection of moral philosophical ideas and pastoral care, medieval hermeneutics, spirituality, and preaching.
George Vandervelde is professor of systematic theology at the Institute for Christian Studies. He has published in the areas of contemporary Roman Catholic theology, ecclesiology, and ecumenical hermeneutics. He co-chairs a consultation between the Roman Catholic Church and the World Evangelical Fellowship, and is a member of the Faith and Order Commissions of the Canadian Council of Churches, and the National Council of Churches of Christ, USA.
Janet Catherina Wesselius is a Ph.D. candidate in philosophy in the joint doctoral program of the Vrije Universiteit (Free University) in Amsterdam and the Institute for Christian Studies in Toronto. She is completing a dissertation on notions of objectivity in feminist epistemology. She teaches courses in feminist philosophy, women’s studies, and religious studies, and has published several articles on feminist philosophy.


How do we deal with difference personally, interpersonally, nationally? Can we weave a cohesive social fabric in a religiously plural society without suppressing differences?
This collection of significant essays suggests that to truly honour differences in matters of faith and religion we must publicly exercise and celebrate them. The secular/sacred, public/private divisions long considered sacred in the West need to be dismantled if Canada (or any nation state) is to develop a genuine mosaic that embraces fundamental differences instead of a melting pot that marginalizes. An ethics of difference starts with a recognition of difference, not as deviance or deficit that threatens but as otherness to connect with, cherish, and celebrate.
The book begins with the suggestion that our inability to come to terms with social plurality is not fundamentally the fault of religious differences, and that a public/private split inadequately deals with matters of basic difference. It then explores how encouraging people to live out their respective faiths may open new possibilities for respectful, honourable, and just negotiations of contemporary dilemmas arising out of the multicultural fabric of Canadian life.
Towards an Ethics of Community introduces readers to some of the most challenging and divisive dilemmas we face in this increasingly pluralistic, postmodern world — issues such as family and domestic violence, Aboriginal rights, homosexuality and public policy, and female genital mutilation. This is a book truly global in scope and significance.