• Germain Grisez’s natural law and creation theology as a framework for reflection on climate change and the ecological crisis

      Clough, David; Deane-Drummond, Celia; Turvey, Jacaranda L. (University of Liverpool, 2016-01)
      My thesis is that a recovery of Germain Grisez’s theological ethics in relation to the environment and the application of his conservative Catholic methodology to climate change can yield a novel and significant contribution to Catholic theological reflection on this central challenge in an age of ecological crisis. This thesis argues that climate change and the wider ecological crisis are ‘signs of the times’—and hence are appropriate issues for Catholic theological reflection—both in principle and on the basis of their classification as such within the authoritative teaching of the Church’s magisterium. The scientific evidence for the phenomenon of anthropogenic global warming is robust and the UNFCCC establishes a collective legal obligation to deliver a greenhouse gas abatement strategy rigorous enough to prevent ‘dangerous anthropogenic interference with the earth’s climatic system’. This thesis questions both the assumption of endemic anthropocentricism in the Judeo-Christian tradition and the critical-revisionist methodology adopted by a number of ecotheologians in relation to Vatican teaching on the basis of this assumption. This thesis proposes an alternative approach to reflection on ecological issues employing a conservative Catholic theological method exemplified in the work of Germain Grisez. This thesis proposes a rereading of Grisez’s natural law through the lens of his creation theology that reveals an important and hitherto overlooked resource for environmental ethics. Although Grisez himself does not address the climate challenge in his published work, this thesis shows that his ecological insights are pertinent to the issue and application of his theological method can contribute constructively to the wider project of confronting the climate crisis from a Catholic perspective. This thesis further argues that Grisez’s reconstruction of natural law is viable, in that it represents one philosophically cogent solution to the naturalistic fallacy, and that neither his choice of this solution nor his divergence from Classical Thomism compromise the construction of a ‘Grisez School environmental ethics’. In addition, his natural law has the virtue of catholicity in its capacity to contribute to ecumenical and secular debates necessary to the resolution of the climate crisis.