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ON MAKING A CULTURAL TURN IN RELIGIOUS ETHICS

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ABSTRACT

This essay critically explores resources and reasons for the study of culture in religious ethics, paying special attention to rhetorics and genres that provide an ethics of ordinary life. I begin by exploring a work in cultural anthropology that poses important questions for comparative and cultural inquiry in an age alert to “otherness,” asymmetries of power, the end of value-neutrality in the humanities, and the formation of identity. I deepen my argument by making a foundational case for the importance of culture as a topic of normative analysis through a discussion of the emotions as cultural artifacts. To illustrate how cultural analysis can inform religious ethics, I turn to works by Wayne Meeks, Margaret Trawick, and Charles Taylor. I conclude by sketching some implications of a “cultural turn” for future work in religious ethics.
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Keywords: anthropology; comparative religious ethics; culture; emotions; ethnography; multiculturalism; religious ethics; social criticism; virtue

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2005-09-01

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