Public Ethical Discourses and the Diversity of Cultures, Religions and Subjectivity in History: Can We Agree on Anything?

Wilson Muoha Maina


Ethics deals with how we make decisions and the actions we perform. In decision-making, one weighs the pros and the cons of any course of action. Besides the realm of the private, there are ethical issues regularly dealt with in public discourses. Human identity in most instances is a cultural and religious construct. Our socio-historical background as human beings is constitutive of our identity and also informs our ethical decision making. In this essay, I argue for a possibility of positively incorporating ideas from world religions and diverse cultures into public ethical discourses. Since world religions are about people, it is possible to appropriate humanity as understood in religions in the development of ethics. Hence, I present religions as practically relevant in the analysis of public ethical issues. Public ethical discourses are viewed as inclusive of history, religion, and culture. Further, the work of the philosopher Paul Ricoeur is presented as a way of reconciling subjectivity and objectivity in history and ethics. This essay is an analysis on ways in which the debate on ethical issues can incorporate all the voices in a society without excluding anyone while avoiding ideological extremism.    


Ethics, public discourse, society, religion, culture, subjectivity, objectivity, history, Ricoeur

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