The Center for the Study of World Religions (CSWR) project represented here through papers by Thomas Lewis, Aaron Stalnaker, Hans Lucht, and Lee Yearley (with responses) was motivated by the judgment that the trend toward a focus on virtue ethics, with attendant concern for techniques of forming selves, creates an opportunity for a dialogue with ethnographers. I argue that the CSWR essays neglect social and institutional considerations, as well as overdrawing the distinction between “formalist” and virtue approaches to the study (...) of comparative ethics. (shrink)
This essay illustrates the kind of moral analysis Jeffrey Stout advocates in "Democracy and Tradition" by way of examining a conversation among Muslims that took place between June and December 2002. Their debate centers on al-Qaìda's legitimacy as God's chosen defender of Islam, which is called into question due to the tension between al-Qaìda's military tactics and the concepts of honorable combat held within the Islamic tradition. This giving and taking of reasons in both defense and detraction of al-Qaìda's tactics (...) demonstrates the living reality of Islamic tradition--the ongoing process of striving to discern God's will in light of communal agreements about the authority of certain texts and the validity of established rules for interpreting them. (shrink)
One of the ways Islamic tradition addresses questions of military ethics is through inquiries into the shari'a, indicating the ideal way of life and usually rendered as Islamic 'law'. Discussion of the shari?a includes an extended conversation concerning the justification and conduct of war. The work of al-Shaybani (d. 804) and other early scholars in the Hanafi school illustrates an important moment in this conversation, establishing precedents to which subsequent generations of Muslims (including contemporary Muslims) must respond. Further, the accomplishments (...) of these scholars provide an important example to all those engaged in thinking about military ethics. (shrink)
Recent discussions of religious, cultural, and/or moral diversity raise questions relevant to the descriptive and normative aims of students of religious ethics. In conversation with several illustrative works, the author takes up (1) issues of terminology, (2) explanations or classifications of types and origins of plurality and pluralism, (3) the relations between pluralism as a normative theory and the aims of a liberal state, and (4) the import of an emphasis on plurality or pluralism for the comparative study of religious (...) ethics. (shrink)
Al-Shafi'i (d. 820) is clearly one of the most important figures in the early history of Islamic jurisprudence. His Risala or "Treatise" on the "principles of jurisprudence" (usul al-fiqh) is also of interest as an example of an approach to ethics that focuses on divine commands. Following a brief introduction, I offer the reader a few comments about al-Shafi'i's context. I summarize the content of the Risala and then analyze it as an example of divine command reasoning in ethics. Finally, (...) I present some observations on the place of al-Shafi'i's theory in the history of Islamic ethics, particularly with respect to his comments on ikhtilaf, "disagreement.". (shrink)
Students of Christian ethics have often noted the special relationship between Christianity and just war thinking in the West. For a variety of reasons, however, many of these have suggested that this "special" relation may not be unique. This essay begins to build on this suggestion by examining materials from the classical period of Islamic development. The conclusion of this examination is that a number of concerns identified with just war thinking are reflected in Islamic circles, as are (...) certain features of moral reasoning, e.g., the rule of double effect. Such similarities are, however, intimately connected with a worldview which is uniquely Islamic. And so the author closes with reflections and questions on the relationship between religion, morality, and war as illumined by the case of classical Islam. (shrink)
This essay was written for the 1984 General Motors Intercollegiate Business Understanding Program. It consists of three sections, each responding to a separate issue posed by General Motors. The opinions expressed are not those of the General Motors management.The first section attempts to document, through the use of Harvard Business Review articles, a shift in the notion of managerial responsibility from a narrowly focused role responsibility to a more widely focused moral responsibility.