Critical Response to Alice Hayes and Affordable Housing Case

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lice Hayes is faced with the dilemma of approving the Casa Nueva project or rejecting it. The pressure of whether to accept or reject the project is great on both sides. There would probably be vital consequences if Alice chooses to approve the project. Connectively, Alice would also be faced with undesirable response if she chooses to halt the project. Looking at the case more critically, it is visible that approval of the project would deprive the community the only existing cherry orchard. The community is in opposition of the project. The main dilemma arises because the project is geared towards building affordable housing units by a non-profit making organization. The orchard owner already completed negotiations with the organization. Further dilemma emerges where the desired project is in line with the present goals of the council. Additionally, the city planning director and the manager are in support of the project citing its importance.

Based on the events in the case, there is imminent need of ethical decision making regarding the verdict of the scenario. The course of action should be equitable and informed with ethical background and Christian teachings. This is where Alice Hayes is required to abide with the most favorable and moral decision. According to the nature of the case I would recommend Alice to approve the housing project. This decision would be the most equitable, moral and one that is more inclined to the Christian ethics. It is the aim of this paper to analyze the relevance of the recommended decision in relation to Catholic social teachings and the four sources of Christian ethics. The paper will also incorporate the Hermeneutical Circle as well as the approach of Morality of Happiness to analyze the recommended decision.

Catholic Social Teaching

            According to Massaro (4), social teaching of Catholics originated from the Hebrew prophets. The prophets proclaimed God’s outstanding love and care for the poor as well as all His people. These teachings are purely built for the sake of the poor and are based on the experiences of Jesus. The decision to approve the housing project would be of great help to the poor and the disadvantaged in the society. The suitability of the decision is further informed by the themes of social teachings of Catholics. One theme advocates for protection and care for the poor and vulnerable people in the society. Alice would be mindful of the poor people in the society by approving the housing project. These are people who can’t be able to afford superior housing facilities at the normal market price. Since the project goals are to provide some members of the community with affordable housing it should be approved based on the teachings of Catholics. Additionally, the fact that a day-care center and offices handling the well-being of immigrants also indicates that the project minds about the vulnerable people in the society. Approval of the project would also narrow the gap between the rich and the poor. This is because the less fortunate will be offered good housing facilities at a reduced cost. Proverbs 31:8-9 indicates that people should defend the poor.

Through approval of the project, Alice would be allowing the owner of the orchard to exercise his or her rights and freedom to his property. The tradition of Catholic teachings advocates for human rights. The teachings indicate that the dignity of the humans and a strong community can only be achieved where human rights are respected and their responsibilities accomplished. It would be unjust to the orchard owner for the council to restrict or deny him the opportunity to sell his orchard. The orchard owner had already exercised his democratic right. Individuals and the governing bodies should honor human rights based on the Catholic teachings. Another theme of the Catholic teachings calls for unity and comprehensive inclusion in the society. The theme further stipulates the need for adequate inclusion of all members of the society in matters of economy, politics and policy making (Massaro 10). The governing body should ensure that all public members are given equal participatory rights in the government. Therefore, the pleas of the minority who advocate for approval of the project should be respected.

The Four Sources of Christian Ethics

            According to Massaro (57), Christian ethics are built from moral and reflective thinking. The first source of Christian ethics is known as revelation. This is where the scripture is identified as the starting point of Christian ethical decision making. Although the Bible may be interpreted differently by its users, Christian scholars indicate that the Bible influences the Christians’ take on human dignity and morality. The Bible is a conveyance of the commands from God and contains teachings on how humans should live their life. With inference to the Bible, approval of the project would be the most appropriate action for Alice Hayes. Endorsement of the project would ensure protection of the poor in the society. The needs immigrants would also be catered for with the completion of the project. This directly correlates with the Bible teachings in Leviticus 19:9-10 which says that a piece of the harvest should be reserved for the stranger and the poor. The project resisters should reconsider their decisions since it seems selfish to deprive the poor and the defenseless their only hope of a better life.

The second source of ethics revolves around reason. This is where natural law is combined with Biblical teachings to produce reason. The natural law requires people to always do what is right. Through observing the natural dynamics of life, it is visible that people live in the natural order that God wants them to. The natural instincts of the people correspond with what God want. Alice Hayes should evaluate the situation based on her own natural instincts. Doing good is the nature of all rational human beings and is also a teaching in the Bible and a Christian value. Approving the housing project amounts to more good than rejecting it. It would be better to provide housing to the poor than reserve the area to be a historic site (Massaro 62).

Tradition is the third source and involves theological manifestation in the life of the church. It links tradition and the scripture. Tradition observes equity in sharing resources among people. As per tradition, people always looked at the common good hence placed emphasis on equal distribution of resources and the right of every person to acquire a decent life. The earliest Christians observed these traditions for peaceful coexistence. In regard to Alice Hayes case, the option that would achieve a common good would be to endorse the project. This action would relieve the community homeless people and troubled immigrants. This reason of natural law also relates to the scripture in Psalm 41:1 which indicate that happy are the people who have high regard for the poor and the deprived (Massaro 67).

The dimension of the final source of ethics is restrained in the previous three sources. It involves experience which is gained from life events. Everything that a person goes through is listed as part of his experience and influences his actions and reactions to certain other circumstances. The Bible itself is also drawn from firsthand experience with God. A Christian is required to make a moral judgment based on his or her experiences. Alice Hayes has got firsthand experience with the plight of the homeless in the city. She has got ten years experience in a program that addressed the needs of the homeless. She probably knows the difficulties faced by the homeless through her struggle to get them housing facilities in the past ten years. It would therefore be equitable and ethical for her to consent the housing project (Massaro 72).

The Hermeneutical Circle 

            The circle was developed by human science theorists as a mechanism to determine solutions for social problems in the society. The hermeneutical circle uses a theological approach to the scenario in the quest of making sound decisions. The theory on which the circle is founded assumes that our understanding of the problem should circular and analogous. It argues that the whole problem can only be understood where all the parts have been fully comprehended. The circle gives much importance to understanding the parts of the problem first. The circle informs the morality of our actions through intensive research on the problem, proper understanding and proper interpretation of the findings. The circle also highlights on the risk of misunderstanding. The theological aspect of the circle is observed through is close relationship with the scripture based on interpretation and understanding (Massaro 73).

Based on the hermeneutical circle approach, endorsement of the project would be the most suitable option. After breaking the scenario into parts, it is visible that the city is in eminent need of cheap housing. Deeper analysis of the problem shows that the city is in a greater need of housing than an orchard. It would be unfair to deprive the homeless the possibility of good housing facilities for future prospects of building a museum. Just like the scripture, the hermeneutical circle uses experience to inform the decision (Bernstein 133). Alice has got a lot of experience with the hurdles of the homeless in the city hence this approach would support her decision to support the housing program. Alice also tends to be adequately informed on the matter but fears endorsement of the construction program because of political following. She is required to abide to moral action regardless of the outcome.

A Morality of Happiness or Obligation

            Ethical decision has the moral obligation to attract happiness as the end result. The decision is required to bring pleasure to the people. The morality of happiness begs from the modern ethical philosophy. This is where an action is required to be morally acceptable and inflict happiness to the larger community. The moral philosophy of happiness requires every decision to cause happiness. The main concern of the decision maker should be how to make people happy. Connectively, making people happy goes side by side with concern for others. This philosophical aspect also correlates with Jesus teachings where he urged people to do well to others. Jesus taught people on the importance of happiness in their life. He embraced peace and joy at all times. In regard to Alice Hayes case, the decision to approve the house construction program would be the best. This is because it would inflict a lot of happiness to the homeless, the immigrants and all the stakeholders who are in support of the project (Olsen 200).


            The paper successfully analyzes Alice Hayes case and the suitability of the recommendation in relation to various theological methodologies. The four methodologies discussed in the paper explain why the recommendation for Alice to endorse the housing project is much favorable. From the discussion in the paper it is visible that the proposed recommendation is founded on ethical and theological aspect (Massaro 167).

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