The Ethical Imagination: Journeys of the Human Spirit
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Somerville asks: What does it mean to be human today, when mind-altering scientific breakthroughs are challenging our fundamental ideas of ourselves, how we relate to others and the world around us, and how we find meaning in life? Touching on such controversial subjects as our growing acceptance of new reproductive technologies and the genetic modification of plants and animals, she argues that only if we are willing to undertake a journey of the human imagination will we be able to see, understand, and relate morally to the world around us, allowing us to develop an ethics to guide us.
source of morality within humans. Or to a purely intrinsic source: morality is part of shared human nature and its content is not determined simply by the preferences of the individual person. Some utilitarian philosophers, such as the German Jürgen Habermas, also believe that searching for morality — and applying it through ethics — is intrinsic to being human. In other words, they see the search for morality as having an intrinsic source — it is to be found in humans as part of their intrinsic
moral principles, such an understanding allows us to postulate the existence of a stable moral base that exists and that we can all share, while at the same time acknowledging that what we can share is a reflection of what we can see and find of it at any given time. Language as Declarative, Not Constitutive, of Ethics Earlier in this chapter, I discussed the importance of our choice of language in “doing ethics.” It is also important for us to decide upon the function of language both in
parent-child bond in establishing important societal values. Our understanding of parental love — as the parents’ unconditional acceptance of, and love for, the child born to them simply because the child is their child — is drastically changed. The parents’ love becomes conditional on the child having certain characteristics and not having others. This is a fundamental change in the shared morality and values on which society has traditionally rested. Another issue that is currently challenging
unacceptable and should be prohibited. I want to make it clear that in recommending we enact law to safeguard the rights of children, I in no way want to detract from the important principle that these are natural rights of the human person, and therefore their existence does not depend on their being enacted in law. Each of these rights is constitutive of the human person’s self-identity; they are fundamental human rights — arguably the most fundamental — which cannot be denied by others or the
accept complexity, which might be an effort to control uncertainty and thereby reduce our fear of the unknown and the anxiety that produces, paradoxically have backfired and resulted in the creation of a culture of anxiety? It is said that in order to be in denial, a person must have an awareness of the matter denied in order to keep it repressed. Repression uses up large amounts of psychic energy and can result in depression. Might we have placed our collective psyche in denial about complexity,