Cebula Adam
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48(2012)4 - Ethics of Christian inspiration

Adam Cebula

“Freedom in Truth” or “Freedom from Truth”? Tischner and Styczeń on the Encyclical Veritatis Splendor

  • language: Polish


The publication of John Paul II’s encyclical Veritatis Splendor – an official church document devoted entirely to moral matters – aroused great interest all around the world. The scope of philosophical debate focusing on the encyclical was particularly extensive in Poland. With a number of Polish Christian thinkers agreeing as to the normative content of the Catholic moral doctrine, their interpretations of its official contemporary re-announcement by the pope varied considerably. The paper presents the analysis of two opposite models of a meta-ethical reading of Veritatis Splendor – one proposed by Józef Tischner and one presented by Tadeusz Styczeń. In both interpretations the emphasis is laid on the relationship between two categories: the concept of freedom of moral subjects and the concept of the truth of value judgments, which they endorse (the concept of those judgments’ being true). By comparing both interpretive proposals one can notice the most basic differences between the two alternative ways of understanding the foundations of Christian ethics as well as seeing the principal limitations of both of them.