By: Taylor Fulkerson ~Managing Editor~
Is there a Jesuit ethics?
That question is on the table this academic year for the Ethics/Religion and Society (E/RS) lecture series. The series will feature six speakers each semester.
Dr. Michael Sweeney, the director of E/RS and professor of philosophy, organized the lecture series.
“The notion that there is something unique about the Jesuits and ethics is everywhere at a Jesuit university now,” Sweeney said. “And although it’s everywhere in the Jesuit university, the question of exactly what makes it unique is not typically asked. In fact, I don’t think you’ll see anywhere a series like this that addresses the question and debates its meaning.”
The question guiding the lecture series can be interpreted a number of different ways according to Sweeney.
“Do Jesuits emphasize ethics more in their university education and politics and so on?” he said. “Or is there a particular content to ethics for the Jesuits? For example, you could cite Jesuit casuistry, and there’s an attempt to revive (that) now.”
The case-based reasoning that has been prevalent among Jesuit philosophers, theologians and ethicists since the 16th century is only one way that a unique Jesuit ethics could take shape. The story of a Jesuit ethics could be more complex, incorporating diverse influences.
“It could be that the influence on ethics is indirect through spirituality or the Jesuit way of life, the Jesuit charism,” Sweeney said. “So I think it’s pretty well-agreed that there’s something unique about Jesuit ethics, about the Jesuits and ethics. The question is, what makes it unique?”
The theme of this year’s lectures is particularly relevant to Xavier.
“E/RS is unique to Xavier,” Sweeney said. “There’s nothing like it at any other university. There’s nothing even like it at any other Jesuit university. There is something clearly special about the Jesuits and ethics at Xavier University.”
The series showcases a variety of speakers, many of whom are Jesuits from universities across the country. Noteworthy speakers include Rev. Kevin Burke, SJ, professor of theology at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley and a commentator on the work of Ignacio Ellacuría, SJ, one of six Jesuits martyred in El Salvador in November 1989, and Rev. Joe Koterski, SJ, associate professor of philosophy at Fordham University, who is well-published in the history of both medieval and modern philosophy and the history of Catholic thought.
The lecture series, has been in preparation for a year according to Sweeney. “I was expecting more difficulty in getting consent from the speakers, but I really had no rejections,” Sweeney said. “All the (speakers) saw the value in the project and wanted to be part of it.”
The first lecture in the series will take place at 7:00 p.m. on Sept. 10 in the Conaton Board Room and will be presented by Koterski.
All lectures in the series will take place at this time and location with the exception of the Sept. 23 lecture by Lisa Fullam, which will take place at 4:00 p.m.
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