World Cosmopolitan Ethics

Ethics is the dimension of interpersonal relationships. It presupposes knowledge, which is theory. But it does not stop at pure theory, but puts it into practice. When we act, i.e. when we put our knowledge and our decisions into practice, we are geared to certain rules of conduct and values. These can be acquired in early childhood or we can acquire them ourselves through education. The objective rules and laws of the community in which we live are parameters within which we shape our behaviour, i.e. our actions.

The basic principle of ethics was expressed by Immanuel Kant in his second categorical imperative, which nowadays is considered one of the foundations of the concept of human dignity, which all democratic constitutions are based on. It reads as follows:

"Act in such a way that at all times you need humanity, both in yourself and in the person of others, you use them as an end and never merely as a means." (translation by the authors)

(Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten, 1785, in: I. Kant, Akademie Ausgabe, Berlin 1900 ff., Vol. IV, p. 429).

This is a thought of immediate clarity and understanding. In our lives, since early childhood we have treated the world as a means of satisfying our needs. For the newborn child, even the mother is only a means of survival. However, as we grow up, we develop feelings that lead us to love those with whom we live and on whom we depend, and who we should therefore regard not only as means but also as ends (in fact, Kant says that one should never regard others simply as means but above all as ends).

The moment we begin to understand that others need us, just as we need them, and that therefore the necessity of need is mutual, we begin to see the world as adults and no longer as children, and so ethics begins to develop. It is the basis of social life. Without ethics, there would be no friendship, no love and no other free social relationship not bound by law.

In Kant’s ethics, the consideration can be added as to whether the principle he formulated should also be applied to animals, which obviously feel pain and should therefore not be treated merely as means, even though they are not as completely free and autonomous as humans are. There is a profound body of literature on this subject (see also the page ’Animal Rights’ on this platform). Peter Singer is a thinker who has worked on this issue very intensively.

One could say that everything that exists should not only be seen as a means but also as an end. The inanimate matter (such as stone), even if it does not feel pain, has its own nature and its own structure, which should be respected even when it is used as a means. This needs to be a central thought in a philosophy that wants to be committed to the environment and the future.

These are very complex questions, which we should discuss in depth in the various rooms of the section on ethics in order to work together on the ethics of the future cosmopolitan society on the indispensable basis of Kant.

The fundamental principle and thus the new paradigm of the world state can only be Kant’s second categorical imperative, which primarily relates to all human beings, including those not yet born (as well as the dead who must be honoured). But it can also be applied to everything else that exists. The modalities of this application are still to be discussed and scientifically determined.
The ethics of the world state will thus be based on the mutual relationship of purpose between human beings. The final state of a society that feels, thinks and lives according to such a principle is defined by Kant in the third categorical imperative as the "realm of purposes".

Obviously, people can live together better in this mutual way and satisfy their physical and mental needs without considering each other exclusively as means.

The section ’ethics’ can be divided as follows:

Political ethics: It refers to the community in general (ethical value of humanity).

Business ethics: It deals with human activities that ensure the survival of the individual, as well as with the production and distribution of the goods that are necessary for life (ethical value of work).

Family ethics: It includes the human activities that have to do with the survival of humanity as a species (ethical value of love).


If you like to suggest a room on the topic of ’Ethics’, please contact us by e-mail.

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