Ethical Perspectives 17 (2):283-307 (2010)

Abstract
The present article investigates what empirical research can add to family ethics. The author discusses the approach of theologian Don Browning’s family ethics, referring to empirical research about values and norms and about factual data. The author warns against oversimplifying the relationship between what ‘is’ and what ‘ought’ to be. In the next step, the author critically examines her previous research in light of the meta-question of the relevance of empirical research for ethics. Four aspects are discussed: empirical research as a possible bridge between ideals and reality, empirical results on the gender related division of domestic tasks, experiences of family in relation to ethical ideas and the relationship between ethical views on family life and religious attitudes.Empirical research is considered relevant for theological family ethics because it makes researchers aware of the distance or similarities between ideals and reality, because it helps them to reflect on the relevance of their theological ethics in practice and because it demonstrates the influence of social, religious and family identity on ethical thinking
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DOI 10.2143/EP.17.2.2049267
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