Human Ethics and Welfare Particularism: An Exploration of the Social Welfare Regime in Lebanon

Ethics and Social Welfare 1 (2):123-146 (2007)
Abstract
This paper presents a profile of the welfare regime in Lebanon which is posited on the twin precepts of human ethics and welfare particularism. It highlights the key role that moral values play in the conceptualization and implementation of social policy, as well as in the measurement of welfare outcomes. This is marked by the dominance of duty, traditionalism and elitism in the ethics of religious welfare in Lebanon. The paper argues that the social welfare regime in Lebanon overlaps with the debates on the ethics of care and on virtue ethics in Western moral philosophy. This is also linked in with contemporary conceptualizations of religious ethics in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The paper asserts that religious ethics is a valid endeavour in its own right and an ever more pertinent subject matter for the study of social welfare and social policy. This challenges the traditional dichotomy between reason and faith which has subdued the relevance of religion to public life. Indeed, religion, the nuclear family and clientelism networks are shown to play a critical role in Lebanese social welfare, such that, in spite of state incapacity, the welfare regime there cannot be considered rudimentary. The method adopted for this research was a large qualitative case study involving service providers and users at the Ministry of Social Affairs and five leading Christian and Muslim religious welfare organizations in Lebanon
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