Iranian Muslim Reformists and Contemporary Ethics; Revival of “Utilitarianism"

Insan and Toplum: The Journal of Humanity and Society 8 (2):19-32 (2017)
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This paper raises a moral issue for contemporary post-revolutionary Muslim intellectuals in Iran. According to traditional Islamic teachings, ethics enables people to transcend from this mundane world and offers guidance on ways to improve virtues. Most contemporary Iranian Muslim intellectuals have attempted to pave the way for accomplishing this goal. After clarifying the ways in which Iranian Muslim intellectuals have faith in virtue ethics as a best possible moral normative theory, we claim that virtue ethics fails to support some of our modern problems in the realm of politics such as human rights and democracy. Also, we argue that virtue ethics is not a good theory for ordinary average people who have weakness of will. A preliminary conclusion of the paper will be that utilitarianism, generally, and principle of utility, specifically, is a better solution to the modern problems. This, we believe, has been overlooked from the eyes of post-revolutionary Muslim intellectuals. Yet, we suggest that among different versions of utilitarianism, rule-utilitarianism is more justified to do this job.

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Hossein Dabbagh
Northeastern University London


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