Of the alternatives/approaches to Christian ethics, which makes the most sense and why?

1 Answer

rrteacher's profile pic

rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Holmes presents several different alternatives to a Christian ethic, and spends the first few chapters arguing against them. The alternatives, in his mind, include cultural relativism, emotivism, ethical egoism, and utilitarianism. Of these alternatives (and we should be clear that Holmes views all of them as inferior to an ethics based on Christianity) utilitarianism seems to be the least repugnant to Christian values, because at least it weighs the consequences of one's actions on others. In fact, Holmes points out that many utilitarian thinkers, including John Stuart Mill, used to compare their ethics to that of Jesus himself. Utilitarianism is incomplete, according to Holmes, in many ways, not least of which because it locates the source of ethics in one rational calculation after another, but it is better than the other alternatives.