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Questioning the HumanToward a Theological Anthropology for the Twenty-First Century$
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Lieven Boeve, Yves De Maeseneer, and Ellen Van Stichel

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780823257522

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823257522.001.0001

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Personalism and the NaturalRoots of Morality

Personalism and the NaturalRoots of Morality

Chapter:
(p.42) Chapter 3 Personalism and the NaturalRoots of Morality
Source:
Questioning the Human
Author(s):

Johan De Tavernier

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823257522.003.0004

While the personalist anthropology emerged as the attempt to overcome a putative physicalism in the natural-law tradition (asserting that the human being is not reducible to nature but rather is a person with spiritual and moral values), personalism itself tends toward a certain dualism between body and mind, nature and spirit. In contrast, theological ethicist Johan De Tavernier claims, evolutionary biology challenges this view. In The Descent of Man, Charles Darwin already focused on the evolutionary roots of human beings and their morality, claiming that the distinction between human and animal behavior is, in some cases, not so sharp. For example, animals have a capacity for sympathy, empathy, and group loyalty, to name just a few of their characteristically “human” traits. Morality does not start in culture; its roots are in dispositions that are programmed into our nature by evolution. Hence, De Tavernier proposes a renewed integration of natural scientific insights into the personalist tradition.

Keywords:   Roots of morality, Nature/nurture debate, Personalism, Body/mind dualism

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