Jeffrey Stout

The Moral Issues of Everyday Life are Not Addressed in Popular or Academic Discourse on Morals


Jeffrey Stout (born September 11, 1950 in Trenton, NJ)


Is a contemporary scholar of religion who focuses on ethics. His works focus on the possibility of ethical discourse in a religiously pluralistic society. Recently, he has championed what he calls "the moral tradition of democracy" as a "background of agreement" shared by participants in the political/social debates taking place in America today. This is his answer to such thinkers as Alasdair MacIntyre and Stanley Hauerwas who believe that participants in such debates do not share enough common ground to prevent their arguments from being intractable. Stout has been influenced by Richard Rorty and more recently Robert Brandom and, albeit with qualifications, aligns himself with the school of philosophy known as American Pragmatism.

Since obtaining his Ph.D in 1976 from Princeton University, Stout has remained there as a Professor of Religion.

His two most well-known books, for both of which he won the American Academy of Religion Award for Excellence, are Ethics After Babel (1989) and Democracy and Tradition (2003). His most recent book, Blessed Are the Organized: Grassroots Democracy in America (2010), takes an ethnographic turn, investigating the engaged democratic practices that he has endorsed in his previous work.

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