Kantian Journal

2022 Vol. 41. №2

Broken Facets of Ethical Universalism. Commentary on the Book Universality in Morality


Some ideas expressed in the collective monograph Universality in Morality (2020), edited by Ruben Apressyan, are here critically examined. The book is based on the results of a large-scale study by professional ethical philosophers devoted to the question of the nature of universality in morality and the mechanisms of universalisation of individual maxims and norms from antiquity to modern ethical theories, represented above all by the analytical tradition in philosophy. Of great interest is the analysis of related phenomena in morality, which makes it possible to determine the causes and nature of the transformation of morality in different eras and the accompanying change in the terminological apparatus of absolute ethical universalism, considered to be the starting point in the analysis of key modern concepts of moral universality. The article also suggests possible avenues for continued research in this area which could prompt modifications not only to the history of the concept of universality in morality, but also to our assessment of the contribution of individual authors and entire eras to the progress of human civilisation. This concerns above all the moral theory of contractarianism and the Enlightenment. Focus on their ideas goes a long way to determining the direction of current historical-philosophical research that reconstructs the history of ethical teachings and individual concepts. The importance attached today to a new view of the theory of the social contract, considered not only from socio-political but also from moral positions, forces us to approach in a new way the question concerning the universality of the key philosophical categories developed within this theory throughout its history. Elaborating the ideas set forth in the monograph, the author also stresses the relevance of the problem of justifying the thesis about the moral law as an analogue of the universal law of nature in the modern context.

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