Ricœur on the (Im) Possibility of a Global Ethic Towards an Ethic of Fragile Interreligious Compromises

Neue Zeitschrift für Systematicsche Theologie Und Religionsphilosophie 52 (4):440-461 (2010)
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SUMMARYCultural and religious differences often lead to conflicts, which sometimes even degenerate into violence. This situation has triggered a debate among universalists and particularists on the possibility of a global ethic. This article does not repeat the discussion here between universalism and particularism as such. Rather, its aim is to shed new light on this discussion by turning to the French philosopher Paul Ricœur, one of the great minds of the twentieth century.My starting point is Ricœur's discussion with Hans Küng on the ‘Declaration Towards a Global Ethic’. This discussion is not very well known and has, to my knowledge, not been commented upon by a third party. In this discussion Ricœur immediately signals his “inner resistance” to Küng's project. First, Ricœur states that the global ethic amounts to a “disembodied formalism” because it is founded on too radical a distinction between universal formal norms and particular religious convictions. Moreover, Küngs global ethic also neglects the challenge posed by the application of these formal principles to the ethical complexities with which people are confronted in life. After having explored these objections, I will examine how Ricœur develops an original perspective concerning the contemporary challenge of ethical diversity and the tension between particularity and universality. In this regard, especially his so-called little ethics deserves our attention.In unpacking and analyzing Ricœur's ethical reflections and elaborating on them in view of the context of diversity, I hope not only to argue how this Ricœurian perspective sheds new light on the discussion concerning the possibility of a global ethic but also to contribute in a very specific way to Ricœur studies. In this sense, the following article can also be read as an intercultural or interreligious appropriation of Ricœur's ethical reflections



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