Constructing Ethical Patterns in Times of Globalization

Hans Küng's Global Ethic Project and Beyond


In the third millennium, people are increasingly being forced to decide how to lead an ethically acceptable life, both nationally and internationally, amidst the radical pluralism of world views. Surprisingly, while the West was a pioneer in the recognition of human rights, its stance towards both exclusivism and difference is distorted. Spurred on the Global Ethic Project of the Catholic theologian Hans Küng, this book searches for a plausible solution to the dilemma of global societal coexistence by carefully analysing the contemporary philosophical discussion. It uncovers the multifaceted ways, in which the standard Western interpretation promotes neutrality towards particular world views, shows why this interpretation is flawed, and presents an alternative with practical implications and an eye towards the global dialogue of cultures.

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Aleksi Kuokkanen, Ph.D. (2010) in Theology, the University of Helsinki, is currently a lecturer at Karkku Evangelical College in Finland. He has also studied philosophy, sociology and pedagogics at the University of Helsinki. His earlier published articles concern human rights and Christianity.
"This is the best account available of the fundamental challenges facing anyone who would try to develop a “global ethic”. Koukkanen draws on his extraordinary philosophical resources to illumine not only Kung’s proposals but to also constructively develop an alternative that is both plausible and hopeful."
Prof. Stanley Hauerwas, Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics at Duke Divinity School with a joint appointment at the Duke University School of Law.

How can we peacefully coexist in a world full of mutually exclusive moral, political and religious differences? In this probing study Aleksi Kuokkanen argues for a postliberal global ethics that takes Hans Küng’s project Weltethos an important step further. Recourse to a common humanum and a basic set of allegedly universal moral principles is not enough.
More than a quest for common ground we need an awareness of defensible differences in a common world. The author argues for a ‚balanced inclusivism’ that acknowledges the exclusivity of incompatible world-views without denying the common humanity of those who hold them. In the Lutheran tradition of distinguishing between ‚person’ and ‚work’ he defends the principle of loving one’s ideological enemies in a ‚kenotic’
renouncement of revenge and violence and, at the same time, resists the attempt of liberal and postmodern projects to override or play down the incompatibility of mutually exclusive life orientations. Ideological differences are there to stay. What we need is a way of living together peacefully with those whose views are incompatible with ours without giving up on our convictions or forcing them upon others. This book is an important contribution to a debate that will continue for a long time.
Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. Ingolf U. Dalferth, Director of the Institute of Hermeneutics and Philosophy of Religion at the University of Zürich and Danforth Professor of Philosophy of Religion at Claremont Graduate University.

Acknowledgments ... ix

I Introduction ... 1
1. Background ... 1
1.1 Declaration of Global Ethic in Chicago ... 1
1.2 Hans Küng ... 2

2. About This Study ... 4
2.1 The Main Task ... 4
2.2 Structure and Methods ... 6


II Ethics and Religious Faith ... 19
1. Küng’s Basic Argument ... 19
2. The Rational Method: From Kant to Schleiermacher ... 30
3. The Positive Method: From Hegel to Heidegger to Jaspers ... 43
4. Exclusivism ... 67

III The Nature of Global Ethics ... 81
1. The Rational Method: Kant Against Consequentialism ... 81
1.1 Consequentialism and Politics ... 82
1.2 Kant Against Consequentialism ... 90
2. The Positive Method: Hegel Against Consequentialism ... 102
2.1 Consequentialism and Sociology ... 103
2.2 Hegel Against Consequentialism ... 113

IV The Content of Global Ethics ... 134
1. The Rational Method: From Kant to Communitarian Liberalism ... 138
1.1 From Kant to Rawls’s Theory of Justice ... 138
1.2 From Pogge’s Cosmopolitanism to Rawls’s Political Liberalism ... 157
1.3 From Habermas’s Discourse Ethics to Communitarian Liberalism ... 185
2. The Positive Method: From Hegel to Postmodernism ... 199
2.1 From Hegel to Dewey’s Pragmatism ... 199
2.2 From Nussbaum’s Capabilities Approach to Walzer’s Multiculturalism ... 210
2.3 From Gray’s Value Pluralism to Postmodernism ... 250


V The Rational Method: The Aristotelian Line ... 303
1. Macintyre and Sandel as Postliberalists ... 303
2. From Homer to Aquinas ... 308
3. Tradition-Constitutive Rationality ... 324

VI The Positive Method: The Augustinian Line ... 348
1. Transcendental Thomism and Dialectical Theology ... 348
2. Schelling ... 359
3. Positive and/or Rational Method? ... 379

VII The Postliberal Approach and Exclusivism ... 390

VIII Encountering Exclusive Difference: A Starting Point for Dialogue ... 403

IX Concluding Remarks ... 423

References ... 427
Index ... 461
Theologians, philosophers, sociologists, and politicians interested in ethics, political philosophy, or the philosophy of religion. Readers interested in the history of ideas or the ideas of Hans Küng or prominent political philosophers today.
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