Ethical principles of catholic social teaching behind the united states bishops' letter on the economy

Journal of Business Ethics 7 (6):413 - 417 (1988)
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This article analyzes six ethical principles at work in the Pastoral Letter of the Roman Catholic Bishops on the United States economy. The first three principles derive from the Thomistic tradition with its attempt to avoid the extremes of collectivism and individualism. Human beings are by nature social and called to live in political society. The principle of subsidiarity guides the role of the state. Distributive and social justice furnish the criteria for a just distribution of human goods. The fourth ethical principle which is a later development in the Catholic tradition recognizes human rights including economic rights. In keeping with recent emphases in Catholic teaching the fifth principle insists that the goods of creation exist to serve all and stresses the social aspect of property. The sixth principle enunciates a preferential option for the poor and has come to the fore in the light of recent liberation theology.



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