Globalization and the Autonomy of Moral Reasoning: An Essay in Fundamental Moral Theology

By Kopfensteiner, Thomas R. | Theological Studies, September 1993 | Go to article overview

Globalization and the Autonomy of Moral Reasoning: An Essay in Fundamental Moral Theology


Kopfensteiner, Thomas R., Theological Studies


IN A GROWING BODY of theological literature, globalization serves as a heuristic to structure and interpret the delicate balance between the experience of an increasingly interdependent world community and recognition of the radical differences among traditions and cultures. Meeting the exigencies of globalization has become the measure of the adequacy of contemporary theological reflection and education.(1) There are three possible responses to the issue of the globalization of theology: a renewed search for universalist criteria, a sophisticated but ultimately nihilistic contextualism, or the creation of a dialogic methodology which presupposes a solidarity upon which to reason about differences. In a global culture only the creation of a dialogical or hermeneutical methodology will be the adequate response if tyranny or chaos are to be avoided.(2)

How should the moral theological enterprise be carried out in a global context? The answer which this article proposes is that the experience of a global culture necessitates the creation of fundamental moral theology which draws on theoretical reflections in modern hermeneutical theory and theological hermeneutics.(3) In fact, the way in which the issue of globalization is treated will be one test of the adequacy of a hermeneutically oriented fundamental moral theology. Our approach here is to go beyond any single issue and to bring the formal structure of the moral knowledge and the moral agency of the Christian into the discussion of globalization.

In the background of the discussion is the conviction that every ethos must have a strategy to deal with the experience of the radically other.(4) Here is a characteristic of Christian ethics which points the direction for the following reflections: the strategy of Christian ethics is not to influence the behavior of another by threats or promises, but to motivate another through communicative interaction. Experience of the other becomes a dialogue with the other.(5)

A HERMENEUTIC OF ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

The phenomenon of globalization or cultural polycentrism poses three methodological challenges to Christian ethics. The first challenge is to resist the drive to create a new uniformity out of the experience of interdependence by imposing on the other the standards of science or the standards of secularized Western culture. The radically other, then, would exist only as a projection of one ethos or tradition onto another; the other would be reduced to a caricature which would be demeaned, enslaved, or dismissed. A global perspective would mean nothing more than the triumph of one tradition over others, achieved by sacrificing the cultural and ethical diversity of a polycentric world to the tactics of power and domination. Dialogue with the other would be nothing more than a thin veil for a "second colonization," whose goal would be "conformity to the established social order and its standards," thereby obfuscating the pluarlity of interests, cultures, and histories which must be respected in a globalized context.(6)

Secondly, there is also the temptation to assume that Christianity can shed its Western cultural heritage like a mantle.(7) While it is true that a Christian ethic cannot be identified completely with its cultural expressions, it is equally true that no culturally preexistent ideal of the moral law exists. The moral law is not modeled on some Platonic idea to be applied to any culture whatsoever. There is no such thing as a culturally naked moral law.

Finally, the need for a hermeneutical culture must be acknowledged. To understand the radically other in a polycentric world, a culture like that described by Metz in alluding to Nietzsche is needed: "a culture of the acknowledgement of others in their otherness, a culture of togetherness ... freed ... from the will to power."(8) An interest in hermeneutics is legitimated by the experience of distanciation from the other in a polycentric world, or by the experience of pluralism in a world which is characterized as global and interdependent. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Globalization and the Autonomy of Moral Reasoning: An Essay in Fundamental Moral Theology
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.