The Right and The Good: A Case for a Moral System In The Context of Cultural Pluralism
Endeavouring to deal with questions of the right and the good provides one with a foundation for attempting to answer the enduring question of how we ought to live our lives. As various cultural and ethnic groups interact in an increasingly global community, it is imperative to acknowledge that different groups and cultures hold very different values relative to the relationships between people, amongst the family, between government and citizen, and between one and God. From these different beliefs and traditions stem diverse ethical systems that are adopted by each culture. While this may work relatively well within some communities, it can become problematic when social groups with contrasting ethical systems live in the same community, or under a dominant moral system that can range from the unfamiliar to the contrary or even hostile. Moral philosophy has historically considered these issues under two ethical perspectives. Concern for the good is usually identified with teleological arguments that consider primarily the end, or objective of an action. Concern for the right is identified with deontological theories which consider mainly the rightness or correctness of the act itself; they are primarily concerned with the concept of duty. This work will establish a line of reasoning which favors the good over the right, with a preference for moral systems that include utilitarian, communitarian and Aristotelian ethics, while acknowledging the importance of certain deontological approaches that in some instances may be able to deal effectively with protecting individuals according to some basic set of rights. This work will focus primarily on the debate which has occurred over the last several decades between those arguing for a deontological approach to ethics, e.g., the liberals and some brands of utilitarians, and those arguing for a teleological approach to ethics, e.g., the communitarians and some brands of utilitarians.
Keywords: Ethics, Communitarianism, Liberalism, Moral Philosophy, Pluralism, Utilitarianism
Humanities Department, Dominican University of California