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Challenges for
Contemporary Ethics
• Cultural diversity
• Technological innovation
• Globalization
Cultural Diversity
• Culture is an aspect of personal
• Based on religion, language, custom
• Expressed through symbolic behavior
such as distinctive clothing or ritual
• Challenge: in a pluralistic, liberal,
democratic society, how to respect and
recognize cultural diversity
• Technology is a set of tools (physical or
conceptual) built to supplement and/or
alter natural human capabilities.
• Education both uses technology (in the
popular sense of computers or AV
presentations) and is a technology
(transmitting past knowledge increases
human capabilities)
• Medicine both uses technology (i.e. CAT
scan) and is a technology that extends
human capabilities (resistance to
illness, fertility, life span)
• Challenge: applying moral norms to novel
situations that emerge at a rapid rate
• Morality evolves over long periods of
time, in response to major change
• Rapid technological innovation produces
major changes for which traditional
morality provides no clear framework
(egs: fertility technology;
communication technology)
• Defined as a process of expanding flow of
capital, work, and ideas across political
and cultural boundaries
• Our models of economics, citizenship,
work/leisure, ; ways of life and identity are
challenged by globalization, along with the
moral norms that govern personal
• Globalization weakens the clear, stable
boundaries that individual autonomy,
rational choice, and respect for other’s
rights need in order to function well.
• Challenge: how to enjoy the
benefits associated with
globalization while lowering the
costs of globalization;
• Challenge for ethics:
to develop new models of:
• Agency and responsibility
• Identity
• Community