Zecha Gerhard
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47(2011)4 - Science versus Utopia. Limits of Scientific Cognition

Gerhard Zecha

Utopias in ethics. Common visions, scientific conceptions, meta-scientific assumptions

  • language: English


Two types of utopia can be distinguished: negative and positive. Firstly, ‘dystopia’ is considered as a chaotic place in both ethical thinking and moral reality. “Morality is in the eyes of the beholder really”, says the young student today and expresses a form of ethical relativism that dates back to ancient Greek philosophy. Common visions in our time and even scientific conceptions support this theory with a number of arguments, i.e. historicism, fact-value dichotomy, some consequences of cultural anthropology, sceptical view of human life, ethical non-cognitivism, majority and trends, moral privacy, moral virtues. Each of these arguments is described and evaluated.

Secondly, ‘utopia’ is characterized as an ideal community with a perfect socio-moral system. To establish utopia in ethics, a fresh look is taken at some meta-scientific assumptions. They help to list necessary anthropological clarifications including comments about human dignity. Moral values are then to be understood as a part of reality (not fiction) that can be described and rationally discussed. From such a conception, ethical consequences follow for both the political/educational thinking and the practicing of morality in modern societies.