TWO NEGLECTED CLASSICS OF COMPARATIVE ETHICS
Version of Record online: 21 AUG 2008
© 2008 Journal of Religious Ethics, Inc.
Journal of Religious Ethics
Volume 36, Issue 3, pages 375–403, September 2008
How to Cite
Davis, G. S. (2008), TWO NEGLECTED CLASSICS OF COMPARATIVE ETHICS. Journal of Religious Ethics, 36: 375–403. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9795.2008.00353.x
- Issue online: 21 AUG 2008
- Version of Record online: 21 AUG 2008
- Mary Douglas;
- Herbert Fingarette;
- Carl Hempel
Mary Douglas's Purity and Danger and Herbert Fingarette's Confucius: The Secular as Sacred have had a continuous impact on cultural anthropology and the study of ancient Chinese thought, respectively, but neither has typically been read as a contribution to comparative religious ethics. This paper argues that both books developed from profound dissatisfaction with the empiricist presuppositions that dominated their fields into the 1970s and that both should be associated with the revival of American pragmatism that is currently driving a reinterpretation of ethics as a social practice embedded in historically contingent discourse about agency, virtue, and social organization. This pragmatic turn results in a shift of comparative ethics away from issues of methods and metaethics in the direction of history and fieldwork as the preconditions for useful comparison.