The architectonic of the ethics of liberation: On material ethics and formal moralities

Philosophy and Social Criticism 23 (3):1-35 (1997)
This contribution is a critical and constructive engage ment with discourse ethics. First, it clarifies why discourse ethics has difficulties with the grounding and application of moral norms. Second, it turns to a positive appropriation of the formal and proce dural aspects of discourse ethics. The goal is the elaboration of an ethics that is able to incorporate the material aspects of goods and the formal dimension of ethical validity and consensuability. Every morality is the formal application of some substantive good. Every ethical perspective demands its evaluation in terms of its uni versability. In order to achieve this mediation, it is suggested that we must incorporate not only the historical dimension of moral systems, but also the role of critical consciousness and the negativity embod ied by those who are victims of the existing consensus. The essay con cludes with six points that need to be considered when formulating a material ethics that is universalizable and, most importantly, that can address the massive poverty and dehumanization of those excluded from the present community of communication. Key Words: application • consensual • corporeality • discourse ethics • formal • grounding • intersubjective • Kantian • liberation • ethics • material • phronesis • procedural • validity.
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