Norms and Models in Early Modern France and England. A Study in Comparative Ethics

Journal of Religious Ethics 10 (1):68 - 102 (1982)
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Abstract

The author analyzes the transformation of norms and values in France and England during the preindustrial period (1500-1760). The relationship between religion and reason, the nature of popular fears, witchcraft, marriage, attitudes toward death, and persecution of confessional minorities are singled out for closer examination. The interplay between the two national traditions and the Catholic and Protestant ways remains under constant focus. The new norms and models for behavior that arose in each country in this period, besides being different, were also articulated, communicated, and enforced differently, even though there is a broad family resemblance between the changes in France and in England that led to modernization. It is argued that the general concepts used in comparative religious ethics should always be suspect and may be of questionable applicability outside the historical wholes which gave them birth. To enhance the applicability of these concepts, it is proposed that the work adopt the more limited ambition of comparing cultural wholes that are geographically close and culturally permeable.

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