Juan Masia, SJ (Sophia University)
In the eight short essays of this serial I wrote about several ethical issues within the framework of the "commercialisation of life", that is to say, the trend toward treating life as a mere commodity. In the present last issue of the series I should like to reflect upon the need to broaden our view of Ethics so as to be able to cope with the global threats against life.
The trend toward treating life as a commodity is intimately linked with the economic and political networks of our contemporary technological civilisation. As the technological manipulation of life increases at a global level, life is both enhanced and threatened. Mankind is confronted with new possibilities as well as with new fears. This means new responsibilities, too.
It is our responsibility to put a brake to the "globalisation of consumerism" and to foster another kind of globalisation, namely, "a globalisation of care": care for the great part of mankind in the developing countries, care for the environment, and care for future generations. To put it another way, there is an urgent need for a "globalisation of Ethics".
The philosopher Hans Jonas says: "The gap between the ability to foretell and the power to act creates a novel moral problem. No previous ethics had to consider the global condition of human life and the far-off future, even existence, of humankind" (Hans JONAS, The Imperative of Responsibility. In Search of an Ethics for the Technological Age, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago-London 1984, p. 8).
From the debates about globalisation, which have been going on for the past few years we can draw two main conclusions:
1) Globalisation cannot be reduced to the economic and financial level, but should be carried on within the framework of a political globalisation. *1
2) A "new global politics" will not succeed in solving the problems of the contemporary technological civilisation, unless we strengthen the efforts towards building a "new global ethics". *2
The main program of the globalisation of Ethics should be carried on with the cooperation of the different cultures, worldviews and religions. Such an Ethics, both opened to pluralism and searching for the unity of mankind, should foster the care for life in the three areas of responsibility emphasised by H. Jonas:
1) Responsibility toward all human beings, and not only for the developed and wealthy ones;
2) responsibility toward all living beings, protection of the environment and the ecosystems;
3) responsibility toward future generations.
Just the opposite of such ideal is confronting us in the present "world disorder": the escalating trend toward irresponsible manipulations of life and irresponsible proliferation of weapons; the tendency to impose the values and world views of a powerful country upon the others; the danger of a "globalisation of war" for economic reasons under the pretext of "fight against terrorism"; and, at the roots of all these evils, the lack of criticism, discernment and creativity, both in the educational systems and in the mass media.
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*1 "Global democracy", "global order", "cosmopolitan democracy", "planetary democracy" etc. stand out as key words of these debates. See, for instance, B. HOLDEN, ed., Global Democracy: Key Debates, Routledge, London 2000; G. JAUREGUI, La democracia planetaria, Nobel, Oviedo 2000
*2H. KUNG, Weltethos fur Weltpolitik und Weltwissenschaft, 1997

With this article we end the series, "Life as a Market Commodity". For all those interested in the subject, please, notice that Fr. J. Masia runs a monthly seminar on the subject of LIFE. Attendance is free.

Place: Catholic Center (Sophia University)
Time: Every third Friday

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