Moral Man and Immoral Society: Study in Ethics and Politics by Reinhold NiebuhrMoral Man and Immoral Society is Reinhold Niebuhrs important early study in ethics and politics. Forthright and realistic, it discusses the inevitability of social conflict, the brutal behavior of human collectives of every sort, the inability of rationalists and social scientists to even imagine the realities of collective power, and, ultimately, how individual morality can overcome social immorality.
The Library of Theological Ethics series focuses on what it means to think theologically and ethically. It presents a selection of important and otherwise unavailable texts in easily accessible form. Volumes in this series will enable sustained dialogue with predecessors though reflection on classic works in the field.
Moral Man and Immoral Society
Jump to navigation. Christianity is, at first glance, not a religion optimally suited to guide foreign policy. With its doctrines of universal love, humility, and turning the other cheek, Christian thinkers since at least Augustine have struggled to reconcile their moral vision with the reality of international life. In this book and others like The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness , Niebuhr played an invaluable role during the tumultuous s and s by bringing Christians to terms with participation in the Second World War and later the Cold War. The Christian doctrine of sinfulness and the Fall meant, according to Niebuhr, the ever-present possibility of evil, which was all too evident in spreading fascist and communist doctrines. Moral action did not imply passivity in the face of sin, nor were leaders of communities bound by the same moral constraints as individuals. Though now primarily remembered for its tough-mindedness, Niebuhr's book bears rereading to remind us that a realistic morality is not the same thing as amoral realism, that power, even in the service of justice, must recognize its own limitations, and that democracies were capable of their own kind of hubris.
Moral Man and Immoral Society: A Study in Ethics and Politics
An American Conscience: The Reinhold Niebuhr Story
Niebuhr, Reinhold. Second edition. Library of Theological Ethics. Within the argument of this book, Niebuhr launches a thorough and impressive critique of ethical moralists both rational and religious. However, Niebuhr realizes that this coercion continuously leads to one social group establishing a position of power over another within the collective society, which, in turn, fosters both injustice within the group and rivalry between groups. Coercion and power, then, are necessary to maintain peace, but at the same time they will always lead to injustice and struggle. In light of the inevitability of coercion and injustice, what can be said of individual and collective morality?