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Justice and Ethics as Totipotent Emergent Properties: A Critical Rationalist Perspective

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Year: 2017
COI code: ICJE01_119
Paper Language: English

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Authors Justice and Ethics as Totipotent Emergent Properties: A Critical Rationalist Perspective

  Ali Paya - PhD Senior Visiting Research Fellow at University of We stminster


Muslim scholars, since the 9thH/15thCE century, have produced a varietyof theoretical systems to deal with complex conceptions of ethics and justice.These systems, which can be categorised under diverse titles such as‘scriptural’, ‘theological’, ‘religious’, and ‘philosophical’ (in the case ofethical theories), and ‘political’, ‘legal’, ‘ethical’, ‘social’, ‘theological’, and‘philosophical’ (in the case of models of justice), all emphasise theircompatibility with Islamic teachings. Each of the above theories claim thattheir approach receives support from the letter and/or the spirit of the Quranand the tradition of the Prophet Mohammad and the Shi‘i Imams (in the caseof the Shi‘i Islam). One of the objectives of the present paper is to show thatthe above theories/systems suffer from seriousmethodological/epistemological shortcomings. For example, they allsubscribe to ‘justificationist’ epistemological approaches and all maintain thattheir principal tenets are derived, or at least are derivable, from the Quran andthe Sunnah. As a result of these shortcomings, I shall argue, the conception ofjustice and the (second-order) understanding of ethics, as promoted by theabove theories, are defective. I use my critical assessment of the theories ofethics and justice developed by Muslim scholars as a prop to discuss the mainobjective of the paper, namely, to introduce a critical rationalist perspectivewhich regards justice and ethics as totipotent emergent properties. Accordingto this perspective, principles of justice and morality are part of what realistphilosophers regard as ‘reality’; Human beings’ interaction with reality, in thecontext of their collective activities in the social arena, paves the way for the‘emergence’ of various aspects of the principles of justice and morality:people learn more about these principles and their rich potentials andcapacities as they accumulate more societal and communal experiences. Theupshot of the arguments of the paper is that the proposed perspective capturesmore effectively, in comparison to the existing theories of justice and ethicsintroduced by Muslim scholars, the universal aspirations of the ideals ofjustice and morality in modern times.


Justice, ethics, critical rationalism, totipotent properties, justificationism

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COI code: ICJE01_119

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Paya, Ali, 2017, Justice and Ethics as Totipotent Emergent Properties: A Critical Rationalist Perspective, Internationa Confeence on Justice and Ethics, مشهد, دانشگاه فردوسي مشهد, the text, wherever referred to or an achievement of this article is mentioned, after mentioning the article, inside the parental, the following specifications are written.
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