Rules and ethics

Perspectives from anthropology and history

Edited by Morgan Clarke and Emily Corran

Rules and ethics


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-4890-2
  • Pages: 256
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: August 2021
  • BIC Category: Early Modern History, History, Anthropology, Sociology, Social & cultural anthropology, Medieval philosophy, European history: medieval period, middle ages, European history, Ethics & moral philosophy, 18th century, c 1700 to c 1799, 17th century, c 1600 to c 1699, RELIGION / Theology, PHILOSOPHY / Ethics & Moral Philosophy, HISTORY / Renaissance, HISTORY / Medieval, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology of Religion, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / Cultural, Theology, Ethics & Moral Philosophy, Humanities / Early modern history: c 1450/1500 to c 1700, Western Philosophy: Medieval & Renaissance, C 500 To C 1600, Humanities / Medieval history, Sociology: Customs & Traditions, Society & social sciences / Social & cultural anthropology, ethnography


This book investigates the pronounced enthusiasm that many traditions display for codes of ethics characterised by a multitude of rules. Recent anthropological interest in ethics and historical explorations of 'self-fashioning' have led to extensive study of the virtuous self, but existing scholarship tends to pass over the kind of morality that involves legalistic reasoning. Rules and ethics corrects that omission by demonstrating the importance of rules in everyday moral life in a variety of contexts. In a nutshell, it argues that legalistic moral rules are not necessarily an obstruction to a rounded ethical self, but can be an integral part of it. An extended introduction first sets out the theoretical basis for studies of ethical systems that are characterised by detailed rules. This is followed by a series of empirical studies of rule-oriented moral traditions in a comparative perspective.


Introduction: rules and ethics - Morgan Clarke and Emily Corran
Part I: Rules enabling moral life
1 Conscience is tradition: classical Hindu law and the ethics of conservatism - Donald R. Davis, Jr.
2 Manners and morals: codes of civility in early modern England - Martin Ingram
3 Control of the self and the casuistry of vows: Christian personal conscience and clerical intervention in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries - Emily Corran
Part II: Rules and virtue
4 Rules and the unruly: Roman exemplary ethics - Rebecca Langlands
5 'For the love of God'? The First Commandment and sacramental confession in early modern Catholic Europe - Nicole Reinhardt
6 Counting good and bad deeds under military rule: Islam and divine bookkeeping in Nablus (Palestine) - Emanuel Schaeublin
Part III: Rules about rules
7 Tactics of transformation: self-formation and the multiplicity of authority in Polish conversions to Judaism - Jan Lorenz
8 Conscience and action in the Islamic madhhab-law tradition - Talal Al-Azem
9 Comparing casuistries: rules, rigour and relaxation in Islam and Christianity - Morgan Clarke
Afterword - James Laidlaw


Morgan Clarke is Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Oxford and Fellow of Keble College

Emily Corran is Lecturer in Medieval History at University College London

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