Method and Theory


  • "Wither Philosophy? The Unintended Consequences of a Cultural Turn in Religious Ethics."

Abstract: In his 2005 essay “On Making a Cultural Turn in Religious Ethics,” Richard Miller echoed a longstanding criticism of the field of religious ethics, arguing that an emphasis on moral ideas has ignored “an enormous range of meaningful human activity” relevant to understanding the moral life. In recent years, the force of this criticism has led to a growing interest in historical and ethnographic approaches. While the benefits of this turn toward culture seem clear, this essay proposes we look backward to what has been left behind. More specifically, I show that an unintended consequence of a turn toward historical and anthropological approaches has been a turn away from the insights of contemporary analytic moral philosophy. While many might argue this loss is actually a gain, I hope to show that the insights of moral philosophy are significant enough to be incorporated into the cultural approaches we are currently developing.