Lo Sguardo 8 (1) (2012)

Daniele Bertini
University Of Rome 2, Tor Vergata
My paper addresses the notion of moral responsibility in religious ethics. I begin with the outline of the doctrine of moral heteronomy. The scripture stories of the Tables of the Laws and the Holy Covenant provide the general pattern for heteronomic ethics. My claim is that heteronomic ethics transfers the responsibility for the action A an agent x is performing from x to the normative system commanding x to perform A. I then picture the architecture of the normative system of the Decalogue (System D) and I work out criteria for the completeness and consistency of the system. In the next section I make the case for the actual incompleteness and inconsistency of D. As a consequence, an agent subject to the authority of D can not rule his moral conduct by the norms in D. Therefore, the acceptance of D transfers the moral responsibility for the actions by x from x to D, but D does not provide a complete and consistent system of norms to rule x's conduct. In the final section of the paper I briefly present the way religious ethics deals with this problem, by offering an alternative approach to the notion of moral responsibility.
Keywords Religious ethics  Moral responsibility  Moral heteronomy  Philosophy of religion  Holy covenant
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