Why should RS include the study of Ethics

November 24, 2014 · Posted in Blog 

I was asked this question on Facebook. Here is one answer.

I think there are lots of arguments related to popularity and teacher expertise. But I think we need an educational argument to be a clincher, rather than a market or professional argument (as both are always compromised one way or another). So the clincher argument for me is based on a presumption that the study of religion is the study of doxy and praxy, belief and action. My basic starting point is that some forms of some religions lean more towards belief as the main defining focus of what they are, others lean towards action but many have both components. I would suggest it is impossible to understand Christianity without studying action. Indeed the nature of love and the good is a central focus of Christian texts and Christian thought over time. So the question is could religious studies safely ignore moral discernment and action (ethics) without taking a major feature away from the lens of study. For a study of religion not to have a focus on action means it is missing a substantive element of what it means to be religious in many religions and many belief systems. I can’t speak so confidently for geography. Maybe you can enlighten me there. However I would argue you cannot disregard ethics. Note I am not arguing that all students must study ethics at A Level at this point, but they should have an option to study it in depth alongside doxy. Note that I am not arguing our ethics specifications are perfect. They could certainly be improved considerably. But here my case is simply that the study or religion must include doxy and praxy and that ethics is key to praxy.

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