The Limit of Responsibility: Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Ethics for a Globalizing Era
T&T Clark, 2018, xxii + 238 pp., pbk
To treat human agency as a species of responsibility is not as popular as it once was in Christian ethics. In the twentieth century it was one of the leading paradigms for the discipline, with theologians such as Karl Barth, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Bernard Haering, Albert Jonsen, Robin Lovin, and H. Richard Niebuhr all marshalling it to help explicate the role of the Christian in the world. And philosophers such as Hans Jonas, whose significant work The Imperative of Responsibility (1984) received plaudits from Christians and non-Christians alike, invited human beings to rethink ethics from the ground-up in the light of technological advances made after World War II by framing participation in terms of responsibility. But since Williams Schweiker’s notable study, Responsibility and Christian Ethics (1995), Christian thinkers of the twenty-first century have looked for other moral notions to make sense of human beings and our role in the world. One possible reason for this down-turn in popularity is identified and explored in Esther Reed’s The Limit of Responsibility: Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Ethics for a Globalizing Era. This exploration takes place alongside a redemption and redeployment of the idea of responsibility.