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Moral Renewal: The Lessons of Eastern Europe [Abstract]

Ethics & International Affairs, Volume 5 (1991)

December 2, 1991

Nardin uses the Eastern European experience of the late 1980s and the works of Adam Michnik and Vaclav Havel to demonstrate the traditional cosmopolitan Kantian notion of morality in the "appeal to universal human values." Nardin uses three major elements to argue the impossibility of such a concept: "the law of nature," based on Stoic and Judeo-Christian foundation, focusing on reason and rationality of the individual rather than custom or divine authority; the uniqueness of various cultures challenging the universal "cosmopolitan" outlook on morality; and the differences among universal principles of morality relative to personal human experiences throughout time. Nardin concludes that the moral renewal in Eastern Europe is evidence that destructive consequences of moral diversity do not preclude a civil society once agreements on authoritative principles and laws are institutionalized. Each individual's own ethical conduct and internal moral guidance offer the basis for criticism and reform of law through membership in particular communities and common humanity.

 

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