Friday, April 10, 2015

Phenomenology and ethics

The pivotal presupposition which justifies this application of phenomenology to ethics is that ethics has a stake in description. Some of the most pivotal moral decisions we face, even decisions taken at moments of crisis, hinge upon competing descriptions. How we describe something—some phenomenon in the world, some situation in which we find ourselves involved—makes all the difference as to how we decide we are permitted to act. Say, for example, someone was to describe sex as a purely physical encounter. Would it be coincidental that that person then seized any sexual opportunity that presented itself regardless of any existing relational commitments he or she might have? Well, so too with the beginning-of-life ethics: how we think we are justified in acting depends upon how we have described the entity found inside the mother’s womb and, indeed, to the whole phenomenon of human emergence.—Ethics at the Beginning of Life, page xi

<idle musing>
This dovetails nicely with the last post, doesn't it? How we picture things affects what we see. Metaphors matter. The stories we tell ourselves, the way we picture ourselves, all influence who we are and how we act.
</idle musing>

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