Sunday, April 11, 2010

Philosophy Bites on Morality

As usual, Philosophy Bites is worth to listen to at least twice. Nigel Warburton and David Edmonds received Susan Neiman to talk about morality in the 21st century. Neiman makes in important point against the moral relativism that most people tend to hold to. Ethics are not like beauty, where the good and the bad are in the eye of the beholder. She claims that in opinions on morality, people think remarkably alike.

Her views are in that a response, not only to relativism, but also to fundamentalism and she proposes a reinforcement of morality within liberalism. Liberalism seems to be identified, or easily slide into relativism and Neiman points back at the roots of liberalism, the Enlightenment. However, what in her mind has gone wrong is that liberalism, deteriorated into rampant capitalism in which consumerism took over from most moral values. Fundamentalism may well be just a reaction to that and there, she admits sits a valid criticism.

She extracts four values from the Enlightenment and argues that this is a defense of 'the modern world with its capacity of self-criticism and transformation'. The values she chooses are: Happiness - people have a right to strive for the good life. Reason - against superstition and blind authority. Reverence - the capacity to feel respect and awe, without sliding into the authoritative structures of organized religion. Hope - the incentive to keep trying for the best.

More Philosophy Bites:
The genocide and the trial,
Dirty Hands,
Understanding decisions,
Nietzsche repossessed,
What can you do with philosophy?.