This Dictionary provides a unique and groundbreaking survey of both the historical and contemporary interrelations between ethics, theology and society. In over 250 separately-authored entries, a selection of the world's leading scholars from many disciplines and many denominations present their own views on a wide range of topics.
Arranged alphabetically, entries cover all aspects of philosophy, theology, ethics, economics, politics and government. Each entry includes:
* a concise definition of the term
* a description of the principal ideas behind it
* analysis of its history, development and contemporary relevance
* a detailed bibliography giving the major sources in the field
The entire field is prefaced by an editorial introduction outlining its scope and diversity.
Selected entries include:
Animal Rights * Capital Punishment * Communism * Domestic Violence * Ethics * Evil * Government * Homophobia * Humanism * Liberation Theology * Politics * Pornography * Racism * Sexism * Society * Vivisection * Women's Ordination
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Paul Barry Clarke researches and lectures in political philosophy and political theory in the Department of Government, University of Essex. He is currently exploring the political, theological and social relationships between autonomy and citizenship. He is the author of numerous books including the Autonomy of Politics (Gower, 1988) and Citizenship (Pluto Press, 1994).
Professor Andrew Linzey is IFAW Senior Research Fellow in theology and animal rights at Mansfield College, University of Oxford. Past collaborations between the two editors include: Research on Embryos: Politics, Theology and the Law (London, 1988), Theology, the University and the Modern World (L.C.A.P., 1988) and Political Theory and Animal Rights (Pluto Press, 1990).
Attempts to define Western society have taken many forms, but none more unique than the Dictionary of Ethics, Theology, and Society. This highly ambitious work seeks to illustrate "aspects of what might be called the `Western mind'" in more than 250 entries. That it succeeds admirably is due in the main to the editors' decision to have their contributors approach their topics with an interdisciplinary focus. As such, the dictionary is of benefit to scholars in many fields.
The editors, senior academics in the field of theology, have drawn on 155 U.K. and U.S. experts to write essays on topics as varied as Catholicism, Experimentation, Family, Noise, Peace, Same-Sex Relations, and Usury. The essays comprising the definitions are more reminiscent of an encyclopedia than a dictionary. They are signed, and the reader may refer to the biographical "Notes on the Contributors" section at the beginning of the book. Also included with each entry is a bibliography of sources the author either used or recommends for further study. Where applicable within the essay, there are cross-references to other topics.
In keeping with the overall theme of the book, the essays detail the history of the topic and its relevance to modern thought and practice. The volume opens with the essay Abortion, and this sets the tone for the other entries: "Abortion demonstrates perhaps better than any other moral issue the impossibility of segregating `personal' from `social' ethics, morality from law, or religious from secular moral argument."
If the work has one weakness, it is the lack of a specific entry on Judaism. The editors have noted the relevance of the Judeo-Christian traditions on the development of the Western mind. The dictionary devotes many entries to various denominations of Christianity and to newer religious movements. Judaism is cited in these entries but seems to deserve an individual section.
This work is worth its price tag for its value in discussing current issues in a balanced tone without emotion or political rhetoric. It is a timely publication for use during the current election campaigns. The dictionary also gives the researcher a tool that, by virtue of its interdisciplinary approach, is an ideal companion to narrower sources such as the Encyclopedia of Ethics (Garland, 1992) or the Dictionary of Theology (Crossroad, 1981).
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