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Alasdair MacIntyre in his has argued forcefully that the West has lost whatever common ethical grammar it once possessed In the wake of this collapse moral philosophers and theologians have offered a variety of proposals to resurrect ethics Moral theologians insist that ethics be rooted in theological truth though there are wide differences about what this means On the one side Stanley Hauerwas has encouraged Christians to abandon misleading universalisms and live out of their particular tradition and story Christianitys answer to relativism Hauerwas argues is a Christian community arguing its moral convictions on explicitly Christian indeed Biblical grounds I acknowledge the importance of what we might call the Hauerwas project but do believe that Hauerwas has provided the church with a full set of tools with which to engage modern culture On the other side Christian ethicists of certain leanings have suggested that in order to participate in popular moral debate the church should not argue from explicitly Christian premises that the church must adopt a moral vocabulary that all participants in the debate can understand and deploy Natural law perhaps can provide the necessary grammar for ordering the moral argument that derives from the various normative stories that are in play in public life a language into which our many stories can be translated Natural law it is argued is capable of providing a language of truly public moral argument one that is open to all The Popes Veritatis Splendor is concerned with this overall and systematic calling into question of traditional moral doctrine and its reaffirmation of the centrality of natural law is central to its response The questions central to our discussion here then are We should begin our discussion with a clarification of the meaning of the tradition of natural law First we should reject criticisms that the natural law tradition is abstract intuitional legalistic and immobile Natural law is based on rational reflection on the empirical evidence of
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