In this stimulating rethinking of the basic foundations of ethics, Patricia McAuliffe derives a fundamental ethic from liberation theology. She asserts that the experience of resisting suffering, especially oppressive social suffering, must be brought from the fringe to the very center of ethics. Arguing for the conceptual priority of ethics over religion, McAuliffe defines an innovative ethic based on experience and practice. Ethics precedes religion and theology because experience and practice precede theory and interpretation, which are the human activities of religion and theology - knowledge is based on experience. She proposes that ethics can be independent of religion, but that while her liberationist ethic can be either Christian or universal, finally the poor and oppressed are the paradigm source of the disclosure of God and of final salvation. In rethinking the basic foundations of ethics, she compares a liberationist ethic, including Latin American and women's liberation theology, with various classical ethics, and examines and critiques the works of Edward Schillebeeckx, Juan Luis Segundo, Dorothee Soelle, James Gustafson, and George Lindbeck.
McAuliffe offers a flexible ethic that balances the absolute and the relative, the particular and the universal, personal and social, creativity and conditioning, practice and theory, and the ethical and religious. Combining superior scholarship with an original and creative approach to ethics, this book is likely to create debate in the fields of fundamental ethics, theology, and philosophy.