Paul Ramsey (ethicist)

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Paul Ramsey
Born(1913-12-10)December 10, 1913
DiedFebruary 29, 1988(1988-02-29) (aged 74)
OccupationChristian ethicist

Robert Paul Ramsey (December 10, 1913 – February 29, 1988)[1] was an American Christian ethicist of the 20th century. He was a Methodist and a native of Mississippi. He graduated from Millsaps College in Mississippi and Yale University. The major portion of his academic career was spent as a tenured professor at Princeton University until the end of his life in 1988.


Paul Ramsey undertook his doctoral studies at Yale where he was mentored by H. Richard Niebuhr.[2] He subsequently taught Christian Ethics at Princeton. He has been credited with re-introducing just war theory into Protestant ethical reflection.[3] His popular text book Basic Christian Ethics was reviewed by a young John Rawls.[4]


  • Basic Christian Ethics (1950) [5]
  • War and the Christian Conscience: How Shall Modern War Be Conducted Justly? Durham, North Carolina 1961
  • Nine Modern Moralists, Prentice Hall, 1962
  • Deeds and Rules in Christian Ethics, University of America Press 1967.
  • The Case of the Curious Exception in Gene Outka and Paul Ramsey eds. Norm and context in Christian Ethics, New York 1968.
  • The Just War: Force and Political Responsibility, New York 1968
  • Fabricated Man
  • The Ethics of Fetal Research, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1975.
  • Ethics at the Edges of Life
  • The Patient as Person. Explorations in medical ethics, (3)1973 New Haven, Connecticut [6]
  • The Essential Paul Ramsey [7]
  • Speak Up for Just War or Pacifism. A Critique of the United Methodist Bishops' Pastoral Letter "In Defense of Creation" Pennsylvania State University Press, 1988

Secondary literature[edit]

  • Paul Ramsey's Ethics: The Power of 'Agape' in a Postmodern World (2000) [8]
  • Carnahan, Kevin. Reinhold Niebuhr and Paul Ramsey: Idealist and Pragmatic Christians on Politics, Philosophy, Religion, and War (2010)


  1. ^ "Register of the Paul Ramsey Papers, 1934-1984 and undated". Rubenstein Library, Duke University. Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  2. ^ Biographical Dictionary of Christian Theologians (London: Greenwood Press, 2000), p387
  3. ^ "Obituary by Oliver O'Donovan". Studies in Christian Ethics. Retrieved February 14, 2010.
  4. ^ "Before the Original Position: the Neo-Orthodox Theology of a young John Rawls". by Eric Gregory Journal of Religious Ethics 35.2 (2007). Missing or empty |url= (help); |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  5. ^ Basic Christian Ethics.
  6. ^ "The Patient as Person".
  7. ^ "The Essential Paul Ramsey".
  8. ^ "Paul Ramsey's Ethics".

External links[edit]

  • The Birth of Bioethics: Who is Paul Ramsey? (Albert R. Jonsen, 2001 from the preface to the second edition of Paul Ramsey's ground breaking book The Patient as Person)
  • NYTimes Obituary of Paul Ramsey