The Idea of Being Human as the Foundation of Normative Ethics: A Plea for the Globalization of Ethical Discourse

By Chin-Tai Kim.

Published by The International Journal of Critical Cultural Studies

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Scientific methodology minimizes the relevance of the personal or cultural differences among researchers in the assessment of their theories. Once epistemic and methodological rules are commonly agreed to by the scientific community, only the question whether they are followed by researchers becomes relevant, not the question what personal or cultural identities they bear. Normative ethical theories by contrast can be properly assessed only with consideration of who the theorists think themselves to be. Such theories would lack credibility if the theorists did not include themselves in the category of beings to which they ascribe rights and norms. The theorists should meet the requirement of authenticity that they represent and address a moral community. But there is no uniform answer to the question as to who its constituents should be. Surprisingly the recognition of the human world as the all- inclusive moral community is a recent historical phenomenon. Even given an agreement on the scope of the moral community, the conflicts among diverse ontologies of being human and diverse interpretations of the connection between human nature and human norms await resolution. It is argued here that the idea of human nature that is sought for, instead of being assumed, constructed a priori or relegated to an empirical scientific image, should be viewed as a correlate of ideal consensus resulting from a global discourse whose scope comprehends past and present human views of being human, across cultures and across disciplines. Even if such a discourse never comes to a conclusion, its maintenance should be a moral mandate as well as a methodological requirement.

Keywords: Foundations of Ethics, Ethical Theory, Normative Ethical Theory, Philosophical Anthropology, Ethical Discourse, Comparative Ethics, Comparative Philosophy, Globalisation

The International Journal of Critical Cultural Studies, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp.71-78. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 282.571KB).

Prof. Chin-Tai Kim

Professor of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy, College of Arts and Sciences, Case Western Reserve University, Shaker Heights, Ohio, USA

Dr. Kim has taught courses in the history of philosophy including: ancient, 17th-, 18th-, 19th-, and early 20th-century philosophy, phenomenology, hermeneutics, existentialism, philosophy of religion, East-West comparative philosophy, metaphysics, epistemology, and East-West comparative philosophy. Dr. Kim has published works on Descartes, Kant, Hegel, Brentano, Husserl, the foundations of morality, and the philosophy of religion; he is currently working on the career of the concept of subjectivity through the history of ideas, East and West.