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