Can Reciprocoty Be the Principle of a Global Ethics?

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    The starting point of my paper is the ‘Declaration Toward a Global Ethic’, officially adopted and proclaimed by the Parliament of the World’s Religions, in 1993. According to this Declaration, the global ethic rests on the principle of reciprocity, more commonly known as the ‘Golden Rule’: “What you do not wish done to yourself, do not do to others.” This principle serves as the foundation of a number of ethical directives that are concretizations of the idea of human dignity.
    In spite of its laudable ambitions, this Declaration and the principle of reciprocity on which it is founded, has met with fundamental criticism. The effort to formulate a unified global ethic loses the richness and concreteness of the various religious and secular traditions out of sight, in other words replaces a substantial virtue ethics with a moral ‘least common denominator’, in which no religious or secular tradition recognizes itself. A global ethics also ignores the problem how to make the transition from universal principles to concrete moral actions in specific cultural contexts. Against the background of these critiques, I argue, on the basis of the insights of French philosopher Paul Ricoeur, that an ethics of reciprocity needs to be complemented by an economy of gift, and that particular ethical traditions are needed to prevent that the principle of reciprocity remains dead letter. Finally, I introduce the concept of practical wisdom as a way to overcome the problems of practical wisdom.
    Original languageChinese
    Pages (from-to)591-601
    Number of pages11
    JournalSouth China Quarterly
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2016

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