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The path of ethical values

José María Setién Alberro Theologian and jurist

I am fascinated by the field of knowledge and study of ethical values, as well as their application to the world of behaviour, as Ethics, by its very nature, must refer to praxis.

Of the world in which we live it has been affirmed that it drags with it a profound ethical void and with it a serious crisis of humanity. The economic crisis we are suffering is said to have its roots in the lack of ethical values. But this is not the only field in which the crisis is felt. It affects, on the contrary, the whole socio-political coexistence, with the subsequent loss of the consistence of the human being, which ends up making human live somewhat “trivial”, lacking in value.

Looking towards 2020 humanity needs to pose the need to overcome the weakness from “adolescent” liberation, understood as the elimination of all dependence and ethical responsibility, respect for oneself and for others. People need to discover in themselves and in solidarity the ethical values that free them from the existential void caused by individualistic or collective egoism. Affirming his liberty as a radical requirement inherent to his fulfilment, the free person from his liberty must assume the affirmation of the value of others, which gives consistency to one’s own personal value.

From this perspective of the inalienable value of the human being, ethical reflection must go hand-in-hand with that of scientists, so that its progress acquires a full human dimension; beyond the “successes” obtained by the efficiency of technique and research. Loyalty to ethical values must make possible the unitary fulfilment of the “totality” of the human being, faced with the disintegration of “specialities” guided by the efficiency and utility of what is “particular”. In the face of such approaches, the idea of University understood as the authentic universitas studiorum, could offer more realistic tips to the humanisation of progress, from which idealistic yearnings of by-gone times might emerge.


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