A Moral Project

“Technology, whether in the form of weapons of mass destruction, over-exploitation of natural resources, pollution of the atmosphere, or genetic manipulation, threatens the sustainability of nature itself. Representative democracy remains the best form of government yet discovered, but nation states seem increasingly unable to control global phenomena from multinational corporations to ecological devastation, and we have not yet evolved a form of global governance. Market capitalism has increased wealth beyond the imagination of previous generations, but cannot, in and of itself, distribute it equally or even equitably. These are problems that cannot be solved within the terms set by modernity, for the simple reason that they are not procedural, but rather valuational or, to use the simple word, moral. There is no way of bypassing difficult moral choices by way of a scientific decision-procedure that states: ‘Maximise X.’ We first have to decide which X we wish to maximise, and how to weigh X against Y when the pursuit of one damages the fulfilment of the other. The human project is inescapably a moral project. That is one reason why the great faiths, with their history of reflection on moral issues, must be part of the conversation.”

The Dignity of Difference, p. 167