From Ethical Diversity to Ethics of Diversity

14 October, 2018

Published by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, From Ethical Diversity to Ethics of Diversity (Hilary Putnam, Jürgen Habermas, and Taha Abderrahmane) by Abdelkader Mellouk explores the eternal question “What Are Ethics?”. He considers answers offered by three intellectuals, all of whom agree on the impelling need of a new ethical adaptation in the modern world. Mellouk first illustrates Hilary Putnam’s fact-value distinction, and flexible objectivity made to fit moral values. He then turns to Jürgen Habermas’ discourse ethics theory and finally the ethical vision provided by Moroccan thinker Taha Abderrahmane.

The book (160 pp.) consists of three chapters and a conclusion. The three main chapters examine the three above mentioned theories regarding ethics. He scrutinizes Putnam’s concepts of flexible objectivity and his fact-value distinction, pointing out incoherence in the distinction and supporting the stance that science and ethics are both governed by ethics. Mellouk ultimately asks if dialogue can offer the answer to fulfilling scholarly aspirations. He wonders if Habermas’ theory of communicative action can be an alternative to the objectivity that Putnam spent his life chasing and if the definition of honesty can help in the foundation of a universal definition of ethics. He also highlights the necessary conditions for the universality of Habermas’ discourse ethics to be applied.

His third chapter explores Taha Abderrahmane’s ethics of Islam and the foundations of his ethical vision and eventually asks if the modern mind is able to accept Islamic-based ethics. He asserts that there is no doubt that Abderrahmane’s call for universalism is in fact a special peculiarity because it becomes universal by its call upon the other to adopt its own values and principles. It is at the same time built on the dual conviction that the other is inferior and whose ethics that can never be universal because they are not based on reason and have a non-secular nature.

In the conclusion of From Ethical Diversity to Ethics of Diversity, the author reviews his comparison of the three theories and discusses where they converge and where they deviate. He argues that the gap is too big to be filled by an opinion in a book, but tries to encourage a sense of solidarity, insisting that scholars must come together and make more effort to unite different points of view.

He also argues that the time is ripe for everyone to realize that the world, more than ever before, needs humans to put their differences and tensions aside and move from fabricated social harmony towards the creative integration required to help humanity move from a phase of narrow competition between states, ethnicities or religions aiming to gain control, to collaboration and coordination to make history mutual for all. Then ethical diversity shall change into mutual ethics which shall achieve remarkable diversity, and leave the self open to the other and humanity.

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