Religious Ethics and Empirical Ethics

Journal of Religious Ethics 49 (1):33-67 (2021)
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In recent decades, cognitive and behavioral scientists have learned a great deal about how people think and behave. On the most general level, there is a basic consensus that many judgments, including ethical judgments, are made by intuitive, even unconscious, impulses. This basic insight has opened the door to a wide variety of more particular studies that investigate how judgments are influenced by group identity, self-conception, emotions, perceptions of risk, and many other factors. When these forms of research engage ethical issues, they are sometimes called empirical ethics. This essay argues that the field of religious ethics would benefit from a more robust engagement with empirical ethics than it has thus far undertaken. In doing so, it offers a brief account of how issues of moral psychology and moral anthropology have been treated in religious ethics, and it highlights ways that the scientific findings challenge some prevailing norms in religious ethics. It ends by suggesting avenues by which religious ethics research could productively engage empirical ethics.



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Democracy and Tradition.Jeffrey Stout - 2004 - American Journal of Theology and Philosophy 25 (2):185-190.

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