Sunday, 21 February 2010

Citizen Ethics

A new pamphlet has just been produced, elaborating on the need for a renewed look at contemporary ethics. It almost slipped my mind that this fits nicely into the 'digital utopia' strand of this course.

By way of introduction, my name is Olly, and I took this module two years ago when I was in the final year of my history degree at York. It sparked an interest in the philosophy of morality for me, which I still find fascinating two years on. It also introduced me to William Morris, who I remain in awe of. The Utopias module was one of the most academically rewarding things I have ever been lucky enough to be involved with. I'm now down at Homerton College in Cambridge, training to be a primary school teacher (which ain't so bad either).

Introductions aside, a pamphlet has just been released via the Citizen Ethics Network, which features a collection of very brief essays on contemporary ethics. It has been compiled by plenty of renowned current thinkers, and made freely available. Due to the Internet, it is obviously accessible from almost anywhere, so that anybody can quickly learn about the notion of citizen ethics and what makes a just society.

I think that there are few better examples of the explicit link between the Internet and how it can be used to distribute information, and to educate people, in the hope of creating a better (perhaps one day perfect) society, than this website.

Scattered throughout the pamphlet are quotes that one might use to comparatively analyse the utopian writing we have read which spans millennia, such as
"How can we achieve a just society? Much of our political debate assumes that the answer to this question is simply to maximise happiness or to respect each individual's freedom of choice. But happiness and choice are not enough."
Elements of this debate are to be found in most of the texts.

If you're inclined towards the philosophical side of utopian thought and ethics, this is well worth a look.


Sarah Rees Jones said...

Olly - thanks for posting this and good to hear from you. Sorry I have been so slow to respond - life has pulled me away from the internet recently!! Hope you are well.

Sarah Rees Jones said...

Proper thanks now. I just looked through this and noted that 'utopia' is mostly used pejoratively in this pamphlet (in the essay by Jesse Norman on the ethical core of conservatism) - and that the reference is directly to the 'spell of Plato' and its association with state socialism that we are discussing in class on Monday. Very timely!! thanks.