Commitments and Traditions in the Study of Religious Ethics

Journal of Religious Ethics 25 (3):23 - 56 (1997)
The discipline of religious ethics consists in critical reflection on religious varieties of ethical discourse, but to study a variety of ethical discourse, we must look at particular examples of it. Which examples should we be look- ing at? What varieties or traditions shall we take them to represent? In answering these questions, scholars reveal much about their normative commitments. When "religious ethics" replaced "theological ethics" as a cur- ricular rubric in some schools, many ethicists attempted to present their work as value neutral, but it is better to admit that commitments matter and are unavoidable. The new traditionalists make no secret of their nor- mative commitments, which imply an indictment of modern ethical dis- course as a whole. Their candor is commendable, but their indictment can be challenged. Debunkers of modernity have trouble accounting for their own position. Their samples of modern ethical discourse are not repre- sentative. Many democratic voices evidently remain unacknowledged and unexplained.
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