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By John Haldane, First Things, 11 . 9 . 21
John Haldane is professor of philosophy of education at Australian Catholic University.
Every age has its moral problems and perplexities, but we seem to live in especially troubled times. Sketching a graph with the temporal axis running from 1950 to the present and plotting the number of contested moral issues, old and new, across that period, one would see a rising line over recent decades. Drawing another graph, mapping the number of common ethical resources in the form of shared principles, values, and moral conceptions across the same period, one would see a falling line. Place one graph over another and the two lines cross somewhere in the 1970s.
Take almost any area of life: agriculture and energy production, animals, art and culture, broadcasting and journalism, business and commerce, computing and robotics, crime, policing and punishment, diet and food, disability, education, health and medicine, marriage and family, politics, recreation and sport, science and technology, sex and sexuality, and war and defense. Each of these, and others besides, has become a field of ethical contest and innovation. …