The Global Ethic and Its Religious Grounds

Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 45:199-205 (2008)
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Abstract

The Declaration of the Parliament of the World’s Religions tries to establish a global ethic by jointly affirming some irrevocable and unconditional ethical directives on the grounds of their special ultimate realities. Through some case analysis of Christianity and Confucianism, this essay argues that, because these religions often assign a supreme position to these ultimate realities alone and make them trump anything else in a particularistic way, they have to subordinate those ethical directives to these realities. As a result, those ethical directives themselves are no longer irrevocable and unconditional, for they are conditioned bythese ultimate realities and thus are revocable in the cases of conflict with the latter. In other words, the particularistic claims of these religions may permit their adherents to perform such immoral deeds as murder, theft, or lying for the sake of their ultimate realities in real life. Therefore, if the world’s religions genuinely hope to establish a global ethic on the basis of their own religious grounds, they must trust in their ultimate realities in a universalistic way instead of in a particularistic way—that is, they may not place these ultimate realities above a minimum humanist principle ‘every human being must be treated humanely’ absolutely, but should assign a supreme position to the latter and intrinsically integrate it with their trust in their special ultimate realities through a critical and creative self-transformation.

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