About this Research Topic
Both ‘religion’ and ‘morality’ were central themes in sociology as practised by its pioneers in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. However, their central position as major fields of social scientific enquiry and attention has been lost over time. This Research Topic is an attempt to recover these traditional, long-forgotten, but vital, parts of sociology. In doing so, it focuses on the conceptual interrelationship between the meanings of ‘religion’ and ‘bioethics’ at the ‘first-order’, everyday ‘lay’ or ‘folk’ level in various social contexts across the world from countries of the ‘global north’ to those of the ‘global south’ and from so-called ‘Abrahamic religions’, i.e. Judaism, Christianity and Islam, to ‘non-Abrahamic religions’, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Shintoism, Confucianism, Sikhism and the so-called ‘indigenous religions’ of animism, naturalism and totemism.
This Research Topic presupposes that the meanings of both ‘religion’, as highlighted by Beckford (2003), and ‘bioethics’, as emphasised by Nietzsche (1990) and Charles Taylor (1985) in relation to the definition of ‘morality’, are by no means unitary, universal, fixed and homogenous. Their definitions change across various social contexts in time and space. As Steven Lukes (2010), referring to Hacking (1999), stresses in relation to ‘morality’, contingency, nominalism and externalism are essential components of both ‘religion’ and ‘bioethics’. Therefore, it would be fascinating to explore and understand how and to what extent the understandings of ‘religion’ (and its cognate terms, including ‘non-religion’) and ‘bioethics’ (in relation to themes such as cloning, abortion, organ transplantation and blood transfusion, sexual health and orientation, the value of life, death, killing and letting die) intersect each other in various social contexts.
Keywords: Sociology, social theory, social constructionism, religion, culture, spirituality, bioethics, medical ethics, practical ethics, morality, social movements, religious movements, secularization, sacralization
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