Volume 14, 1998
Other Applied Ethics
In Search of a Methodological Foundation for Applied Ethics
The problems that face contemporary applied ethics are indissolubly related to some characteristics of postmodern civil society. In this paper I will try to take a stand in the discussion between a proponent of a particularistic approach and one who favors a universalistic approach to the present difficulties that accompany human action. Karl-Otto Apel combines in his ethics of discourse a focus upon universal and normative structures of communication with a Kantian transcendental method of thought. Paul van Tongeren follows Aristotle and Nietzsche in arguing that the local and historically determined contingent traditions are the basis on which to approach our ethical questions. After giving a brief presentation of their respective contributions to the discussion, I shall end with some reflections on the difference between, and the merits and demerits of, a universalistic and a particularistic ethics.