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date: 29 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article offers a new interpretation of the debate on the nature of ethical value in the developed kalām tradition. After situating the problem in the broad context of theodicy, it proposes to revise the reading, conventional since George Hourani’s studies published in the early seventies, of the ethical realism propounded in Baṣran and Baghdādī Muʿtazilism and of the rival views of classical Ashʿarism. It argues that the latter school did not subscribe to a simple divine command theory of ethics, but in fact grounded this theory in a fairly developed anti-realism, which became the basis for the more sophisticated consequentialist ethics advanced in neo-Ashʿarite sources.

Keywords: Ethical value, theodicy, ethical realism, consequentialist ethics, divine command ethics, Baṣran Muʿtazilism, Baghdādī Muʿtazilism, Ashʿarism

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