Friday, August 19, 2011

Postmodernism and Ethics

Greetings, Everyone! I apologize for the slight delay in posting as I have been getting settled into college life this week. In this post we will continue our series on postmodernism and today we will discuss this worldview as it pertains to ethics.

I consider it extremely helpful to define my terms so as not to confuse anyone; we already know the definition of postmodernism, but we will need to define ethics for the purposes of this post. In order to define ethics (not to mention, anything else) I turn to a dictionary with a worldview that matches my own (biblical), Webster's 1828 Dictionary. Webster defines ethics as "the doctrines of morality or social manners, which teaches men their duty and the reasons of it." I particularly like the ending phrase: 'the reasons of it.' Why is ethics important? Why does our worldview affect ethics? Why are the things we consider right and wrong classified as either right or wrong? Ethics should include the answers to these questions.

A later edition of Webster's dictionary from 1913 drastically alters the definition of ethics: "a particular system of principles and rules concerting duty, whether true or false." Notice the difference in definition? The later edition seems to imply that the idea of ethics is an idea that is relative to culture, time, or category of people. This is a purely postmodern worldview assumption, and we see it here, present as early as 1913.

So, what are the consequences of subscribing to the latter definition of ethics and not believing that a system of ethics should include legitimate reasons for why certain things are right and others wrong? When ethics simply becomes a list of rules or principles that can evolve over time it leaves society free to follow the current principles, or to take the initiative to change them, abiding by other principles entirely. It makes law enforcement impossible, because laws are fluid and can be obeyed or disobeyed without consequence. In fact, we ought not even call them "laws" anymore, because laws by definition are permanent and immovable facts. We ought to more truthfully dub them "principles."

Today we see the results of adopting this fluid and relative view of law and ethics. "Laws" of our country are constantly changing in order to suit the needs or desires of our society. January 22, 1973, Roe V. Wade is a prime example. A law was passed that clearly violates the fundamental right to life in order to satisfy the selfish desires of stronger individuals. When there is no concrete standard for ethics, and no requirement for a system of ethics to prove itself by providing reasons for its principles we find ourselves living in an unpredictable, chaotic society. Nothing is true, nothing is fact, nothing can be depended upon. Only one thing is predictable: if our society continues to embrace postmodern thinking in any area of culture our society will disintegrate into a state of depravity, a window into the sinful hearts of human beings.

No comments:

Post a Comment