Solidarity pp 309-315 | Cite as

Solidarity in Secular Societies: Engelhardt and the Post-Modern Dilemma

  • W. M. Kevin
  • S. J. Wildes
Part of the Philosophical Studies in Contemporary Culture book series (PSCC, volume 5)


H. T. Engelhardt’s essay on solidarity relies upon two crises that constitute the “post-modernism dilemma” in ethics. There is the sociological reality of moral pluralism and the epistemological problem posed by moral pluralism: we cannot know how to choose between the different content-full moral views. In ethics it can be argued that the modern age sought to establish a basis for morality and ethical reflection outside the commitments of any particular community or viewpoint. In the aftermath of the wars of religion during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries religious questions became more and more matters of “private” choice and not the province of secular governments. However, while issues of the sacraments, or grace, were no longer matters of importance for the state, questions of common morality were still of concern. The challenge was to find a way to address moral issues outside of the discourse and tenets of particular religious groups and faiths.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Beauchamp, T. L. and Childress, J.: 1994, Principles of Biomedical Ethics, 4th ed., Oxford University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  2. Douglas, M.: 1976, Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo, Routledge and K. Paul, New York.Google Scholar
  3. Encyclopedie ou Dictionnaire Raisonne des Sciences, des Arts et Metiers: 1765, chez Samuel Faulche, vol. 15, Neufchatel.Google Scholar
  4. Engelhardt, Jr., H. T.: 1991, Bioethics and Secular Humanism: The Search for Common Morality, Trinity Press, Philadelphia.Google Scholar
  5. Engelhardt, Jr., H. T.: 1996, The Foundations of Bioethics, 2nd ed., Oxford University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  6. Engelhardt, Jr., H. T.: 1999, `Solidarity: Post-modern perspectives’, in this volume, pp. 293308.Google Scholar
  7. Lyotard, J.-F., 1984, The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge, G, Bennington and B. Massumi, Jr., ( Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press).Google Scholar
  8. Nell-Breuning, O.: 1968, `Social movements: Subsidiarity’, in K. Rahner (ed.), Sacramentum Mundi, Herder and Herder, New York.Google Scholar
  9. Pius XI: 1931, Quadragesimo Anno.Google Scholar
  10. Sass, H.-M.: 1992, `The principle of solidarity in health care policy’, The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 17, 367–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Schotsmans, P.: 1992, `When the dying patient looks me in the face: An ethics of responsibility for dealing with the problem of the patient in a persistently vegetative state’, in Wildes, K., Abel, F., and Harvey, J., Birth, Suffering, and Death: Catholic Perspectives at the Edges of Life, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. M. Kevin
    • 1
  • S. J. Wildes
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyGeorgetown UniversityUSA

Personalised recommendations