This module was originally designed to concentrate on specific global matters that might well involve invoking specific ethical theories (or elements that resemble ethical theories).
Or, more than likely, involve what can be called moral imagination.
We live in a multicultural world (by “culture” we mean a set of beliefs, values, and practices that define a group’s identity).
Moral imagination would be the ability to seek new ways of acting that synthesize the diversity of apparently conflicting values.
Sometimes conflict exists because we lack the creative insight to devise a course of action that resolves the conflicting interests and values.
A good example here would be Nelson Mandela in South Africa:
at his inauguration as President he invited his jailer as an honored guest.
Another time he wore a Springbok cap. The springboks (South Africa’s soccer team) was a symbol of white supremacy.
Mandela was able to find the right way to bring together, to heal.
Another global issue needing attention in our time has to do with Justice, War, and Peace.
In “Just and Unjust Wars” (1977) by Michael Walzer, the basic premise is:
War is a terrible, horrible evil, and there must be much in its favor before it becomes justified.
Elements of justification have been considered in some form since St. Augustine (c.400 CE) and into the 21st century:
just cause, right intention, publicly declared by lawful authority, last resort, probability of success, proportionality between benefits and suffering.
These have been called Jus ad bellum (conditions for a just war).
Equally important is *Jus in bello (conditions during a war): discriminate between combatants and civilians, proportionality (use only necessary force), use no means evil in themselves (biological, chemical, nuclear warfare, rape, and torture).
While much can be said about Jus ad bellum and Jus in bello, I would focus us on one point in the latter: torture.
The topic recurs and causes confusion.
Here’s one ethical approach:
Torture illustrates one of the most fundamental divides in moral theory: the consequentialist (utilitarian) and the deontological (Kant, Divine Command, Rights).
Utilitarian: the greatest good for the greatest number.
One life against possibly many lives; if a captured person might know something, why not pressure him/her even physically?
Deontological: there are unconditional moral rules that humans must follow.
We must not violate human dignity, autonomy, respect for persons, religious precepts.
Also, consider Rights because of human nature.
It’s a possible starting point for discussion.
Watch: “Rendition” (2007)
How would you teach about torture?
(I don’t want to know how to torture – how would you teach about it – in a discussion, in class, etc.?
Keep in mind that it’s not only about the principal characters involved; it affects a radius of people.
Different elements might have to be weighed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *