Religion vs Ethics

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Moral Man and Immoral Society: A Study in Ethics and Politics

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Moral Man and Immoral Society: A Study in Ethics
and Politics by Reinhold Niebuhr
One of the foremost philsophers and theologians of the twentieth century, Reinhold Niebuhr was for many years a Professor at Union Theological Seminary, New York City. He is the author of many classics in their field, including The Nature and Destiny of Man, Moral Man and Immoral Society, The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness, and Discerning the Signs of Our Times. He was also the founding editor of the publication Christianity and Crisis. Published in 1932 by Charles Scribner's Sons. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock.

In this classic study, Niebuhr draws a sharp distinction between the moral and social behavior of individuals versus social groups -- national, racial, and economic. He shows how this distinction then requires political policies which a purely individualistic ethic will necessarily find embarrassing.

Introduction
The inferiority of the morality of groups to that of individuals is due in part to the difficulty of establishing a rational social force which is powerful enough to cope with the natural impulses by which society achieves its cohesion; but in part it is merely the revelation of a collective egoism, compounded of the egoistic impulses of individuals, which achieve a more vivid expression and a more cumulative effect when they are united in a common impulse than when they express themselves separately and discreetly.

Chapter 1: Man and Society: The Art of Living Together
History is a long tale of abortive efforts toward the desired end of social cohesion and justice in which failure was usually due either to the effort to eliminate the factor of force entirely or to an undue reliance upon it.

Chapter 2: The Rational Resources of the Individual for Social Living The traditions and superstitions, which seemed to the eighteenth century to be the very root of injustice, have been eliminated, without checking the constant growth of social injustice. Yet the men of learning persist in their hope that more intelligence will solve the social problem. They may view present realities quite realistically; but they cling to their hope that an adequate pedagogical technique will finally produce the "socialised man" and thus solve the problems of society.

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Moral Man and Immoral Society: A Study in Ethics and Politics

Chapter 3: The Religious Resources of the Individual for Social Living
If the recognition of selfishness is prerequisite to the mitigation of its force and the diminution of its antisocial consequences in society, religion should be a dominant influence in the socialisation of man; for religion is fruitful of the spirit of contrition.

Chapter 3: The Religious Resources of the Individual for Social Living
If the recognition of selfishness is prerequisite to the mitigation of its force and the diminution of its antisocial consequences in society, religion should be a dominant influence in the socialisation of man; for religion is fruitful of the spirit of contrition.

Chapter 4: The Morality of Nations
A discussion of the moral characteristics of a nation and the reasons for the selfishness and hypocrasy found therein.

Chapter 4: The Morality of Nations
A discussion of the moral characteristics of a nation and the reasons for the selfishness and hypocrasy found therein.

Chapter 5: The Ethical Attitudes of Privileged Classes
The prejudices, hypocrisies and dishonesties of the privileged and ruling classes is analyzed. The moral attitudes of dominant and privileged groups are characterised by universal selfdeception and hypocrisy.

Chapter 5: The Ethical Attitudes of Privileged Classes
The prejudices, hypocrisies and dishonesties of the privileged and ruling...
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