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Keywords:

  • comparative ethics;
  • religious ethics;
  • description;
  • interpretation;
  • evaluation;
  • judgment;
  • objectivity

ABSTRACT

The most interesting and perilous issue at present in comparative religious ethics is comparative ethical judgment—when and how to judge others, if at all. There are understandable historical and conceptual reasons for the current tendency to prefer descriptive over normative work in comparative religious ethics. However, judging those we study is inescapable—it can be suppressed or marginalized but not eliminated. Therefore, the real question is how to judge others (and ourselves) well, not whether to judge. Instead of bringing supposedly universal moral scoring systems to bear on reified “traditions” and “cultures,” it would be better to focus on the precise details of particular practices, motifs, and theories in various settings, and compare them with an eye to substantive issues of current ethical concern.