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Interrogating Social Ethics

A visit with Sharon Welch, Professor of Religious Studies

By LuAnne Roth
Published: - Topics: religious studies multicultural education privilege social ethics ethics

Sweet Dreams in America: how society addresses morality

Topics: philosophy social morality

“What I’m really interested in is called social ethics,” Welch explains. What a society counts as moral or immoral is subject to the particular _zeitgeist_—the spirit of the times. For example, at the time of the slave trade, “most people who were slave owners thought it was moral. Even a few blacks, once they were freed, had slaves.” As a social ethicist, Welch has been trying to understand not just the way individuals make moral choices but how a whole society begins to decide “what counts as moral.”