Themes: Our Creativy Diversity
A new global ethics
A commitment to pluralism
Challenges of a media-rich world
recasting cultural policies
nlen300-26uk.gif (265 bytes)
Why we need a global ethics
pijltje.gif (895 bytes) Culture in search of a global ethics
Sources of a global ethics
The main elements of a global ethics
Global ethics in global governance
The role of a global ethics
To whom it may concern

A new global ethics
Culture in search of a global ethics

It is not difficult to see that the search for a global ethics involves culture and cultural aspects in numerous ways. To begin with, such an endeavour is itself an emphatically cultural activity, including questions such as Who are we? How do we relate to each other and to humankind as a whole? and What is our purpose? These questions are at the centre of what culture is all about. Moreover, any attempt to formulate a global ethics must for its inspiration draw on cultural resources, on people's intelligence, on their emotional experiences, their historical memories and their spiritual orientations. Culture, unlike scarce resources, will in this process be invigorated and enhanced rather than depleted.

Still, the role cultures may play in the search for a global ethics is more complex than the observations so far suggest. In order to see clearly what their contribution more specifically might be it is essential first to dispel certain widespread misunderstandings.

Cultures are often regarded as unified systems of ideas and beliefs. Thus people frequently speak of Japanese, or Chinese, or Islamic, or Western culture as if the ideas of each of these formed a coherent whole easily distinguishable from the others. Yet this view has to be qualified in several ways. First, cultures overlap. Basic ideas may, and do, recur in several cultures because cultures have partly common roots, build on similar human experiences and have, in the course of history, often learned from each other. In other words, cultures do not have sharply delineated boundaries. Second, cultures usually do not speak with one voice on religious, ethical, social or political matters and other aspects of people's lives. What the meaning of a particular idea or tradition may be and what conduct it may enjoin is always subject to interpretation. This applies with particular force to a world in rapid transformation. What a culture actually "says" in a new context will be open to discussion and occasionally to profound disagreement even among its members. Third, cultures do not commonly form homogeneous units. Within what is conventionally considered a culture, numerous "cultural" differences may exist along gender, class, religion, language, ethnicity and other fault lines. At the same time, ideas and clusters of beliefs may be shared by people of the same gender and of similar race or class across cultural boundaries, serving as bases for solidarity and alliances between them.

All of this said, it is obvious that cultures are very difficult to delineate and ascertain. Hence, one might be tempted simply to reject the idea that they may guide us in our search for a new global ethics. Yet, the Commission believes that there is indeed an important role for cultures and the experience they embody. But it is one of support rather than of formal authority or unequivocal moral instruction.

Why we need a global ethics
pijltje.gif (895 bytes) Culture in search of a global ethics
Sources of a global ethics
The main elements of a global ethics
Global ethics in global governance
The role of a global ethics
To whom it may concern

pijltje_beneden.gif (179 bytes) A new global ethics
Introduction
Summary
Report text
pijltje.gif (179 bytes) A commitment to pluralism
pijltje.gif (179 bytes) Challenges of a media-rich world
pijltje.gif (179 bytes) Recasting cultural policies
General introduction
General summary
Review
Background Intergovernmental conference on Cultural Policies for Development
our creative diversity