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From my copyrighted PDF book, Christ the Life: Four Briefings on Biomedical Ethics and Suffering for the Thoughtful Pastor, forthcoming by mid-October:

Normativity = Legal Authority Moral Authority

  1. In military parlance, a superior officer has legal authority by virtue of his rank, but may or may not also have moral authority. His legal authority means that a subordinate must salute him and follow his legitimate orders, or face reprimand. By contrast, his moral authority is what inspires others to follow and obey him willingly even in the fog of war, by virtue of his proven trustworthiness and demonstrated character and wisdom.
  2. Absent moral authority, an officer will be ineffective, authoritative, and is likely to become vindictive because of his total dependence on mere legal authority.
  3. Now, ethics, traditionally identified as “the normative science” answering the continually recurring question, “How ought we live together as human beings?” has a similar makeup. Accordingly, ethics should exhibit both legal authority and moral authority.
  4. In other words, ethics must exhibit theoretical normativity (being universal, objective, and intelligible, it must bring us to attention, so to speak), which is its legal or lawful aspect.
  5. In addition, ethics should inspire personal normativity by virtue of the proven trustworthiness, character and wisdom of its source.
  6. In ethics, theoretical normativity (4) convinces us intellectually.
  7. In ethics, personal normativity (5) engages us, body, soul, and spirit (or, with our entire consciousness: volitionally, emotionally, and cognitively).
  8. In these terms, Jesus the Messiah, being fully human and fully God in His unique Person, has both legal and moral authority. That is, His Word to us all is normative in both senses: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me…” (Matthew 28:18).
  9. This, however, is not the case with radicalized autonomy as an ethical principle. Autonomy, as radicalized by Nietzsche and practiced by Physician Zero regarding PAS, relocates normativity into the mind of assertive individuals, which is not an ethics at all according to (3-4) and (6).
  10. Thus, the bioethical principle of autonomy is not an ethics; but rather subverts ethics and replaces ethical normativity with willfulness, arbitrariness, and anarchy. In Nietzsche’s own words, autonomy sets the stage for the Übermenschen of the last century and our own.
  11. Per my analysis, Nietzsche’s radicalized autonomy succeeds in medical practice, and social engineering in politics and education wherever the Death of God is assumed. To paraphrase Dostoyevsky, “If there is no God, no divine Christ as theoretical and personal Norm, everything is permitted ethically.”


Gregory P Schulz, Christ the Life: Four Briefings on Biomedical Ethics and Suffering for the Thoughtful Pastor ©