Open Journal of Philosophy
2013. Vol.3, No.3, 366-371
Published Online August 2013 in SciRes (
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
Ethics without Morality, Morality without Ethics—Politics,
Identity, Responsibility in Our Contemporary World
Emma Palese
Department of History, Society and Human Studies, Università del Salento, Lecce, Italy
Received May 9th, 2013; revised June 9th, 2013; a cc e p ted June 17th, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Emma Palese. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribu-
tion License, which permits unrestricted use, distri bution, and reprod uct ion i n a ny medium, provided the original
work is properly cited.
Ethics without morality and morality without ethics are the characteristics of two distinct eras: modernity
and post-modernity. The duty to obey the law is an ethical act, but not always moral. Morality in fact is
something more: a principle of responsibility and an index of humanity. This paper aims to explain the
historical relationship between morality, ethics and politics up to the present day. The erosion of the na-
tion-state, global capitalism, bio-economy leads us to rethink the meaning of ethics, morality and politics.
A utilitarian ethics and a necessary morality may be the new frontiers of our contemporary world.
Keywords: Politics; Ethics; Morality; Freedom; Global Society; Bio-Economy; Nation-State;
Starting from the Map of Norberto Bobbio
Our modern world is presented as very complex and articu-
lated. The pressing scientific progress, the continuing social
changes and economic instability not only represent new chal-
lenges to ethics and politics, but also to morality. Over the cen-
turies, the study on the relationship between ethics and politics
is central to understanding human action. Society itself, in fact,
is designed as a structure that supports and contains in itself
two reference systems: two autonomous spheres that explain
human behaviour. Ethics and politics become areas in which
the human acts both as an ethical individual and as a political
one. But, we know that this distinction is not always present in
human history because it undergoes a separation process that
obscures the moral sense. This means that at some point of
history morality suffers a codification and is reduced to ethics
which is a specific law to follow. For example, in ancient
Greece ethics and politics are not separated but together they
make the purpose of the polis. The main cause of this union is
just the lack of codification of morality in a single ethics. In
ancient Greece, in fact, there are many morality and the citizens
of the polis living their ethics in the same political nature: in the
pursuit of the highest good which is ethical and political order
together. But, with the advent of the modern age, on the one
hand, the state asserts itself as autonomous political entity, on
the other hand, the Church as the centre of moral theology and,
therefore, as an institution capable of creating a regulatory sys-
tem: one and only one ethics. Thus, morality enters the Catholic
ethics and is circumscribed within a legal system. For this rea-
son Max Weber, when he refers to the relationship between
ethics and politics, prefers to speak of two ethics: the ethics of
conviction and the ethics of responsibility. This means that
morality is considered as ethics of conviction and politics as
ethics of responsibility. The action becomes moral when it
starts from the ethics of the principles which must follow a
certain norm. Politics, however, must look at the results, at the
politically valid and righteous principles which must serve the
common good. The classical example of the autonomy of these
two spheres individual rules is Machiavelli’s theory. He be-
lieves that the prince must be clever as a fox and cunning like a
lion and must use any means to achieve the political goal. But
Machiavelli is not the only example of the necessary separation
between ethics and politics. If we think of the most recent phi-
losophy, we find Benedetto Croce, who considers the political
integrity as a political capacity. He gives the example of the
surgeon: a professional who just needs to be good to do his
work as a physician and should not necessarily be an ethical
individual. We think to even the famous Sartre’s work “Les
mains sales” which considers the political as that man who can
not do without getting his hands dirty. These are just some ex-
amples of how politics and ethics are both seen as two laws that
man must follow. Two spheres of law separate and distinct
from the birth of the modern state and the church as an institu-
To better understand this distinction and its possible links, it
is useful to refer to the classification made by Norberto Bobbio
(Bobbio, 1999). The reference to Bobbio seems to be dutiful
since he is the Italian political philosopher who revealed the
true meaning of political philosophy and created a general the-
ory of politics. When Bobbio refers to ethics and politics begins
from the modern age and highlights the contrast between the
two terms. It is a dualism that Bobbio associates with the oppo-
sition between Christian morality and political action because
Christian morality generates an ethical system that can be op-
posed to the political one. For this Bobbio draws a map that
places the main theories regarding the relationship between
ethics and politics. The map is divided into two major theories:
monistic and dualistic theories. Within these two groups stands
a rigid and a flexible monism with a real and an apparent dual-
ism. In rigid monism Bobbio inserts those authors who prefer a
single reference system: politics or morality. In flexible mo-
nism, however, Bobbio places the authors that support only a
single reference system, but there are also special cases as ex-
ception. Dualistic theories are divided by Bobbio into real du-
alism and apparent dualism. The real dualism brings together
authors who are convinced of the existence of two distinct
spheres: ethics and politics. In apparent dualism there are au-
thors who believe in a separation between the two terms, but
also in a possible hierarchy. To better understand Bobbio’s
theory is necessary to explain with examples. We start with the
monistic theories. We argued that the monistic theories admit a
single reference system: that of ethics or politics, or that of the
ethics on politics. With regard to the reduction of politics on
morality we can refer to the Christian prince of Erasmus of
Rotterdam, for whom the assignment is to be honest, to be a
man ethically valid. Another example can be done with Kant
who considers the politician as the one who interprets the prin-
ciples of political prudence so that they coexist with morality.
But, within the rigid monism there are also those who prefer
politics to ethics. In this case we refer to Hobbes that is the only
author for whom there is no distinction between prince and
tyrant. Hobbes eliminates any possibility of a conflict between
ethics and politics, since the state is the only entity truly auto-
nomous and right: even the church to exist should be entitled by
it. As regards the flexible monism, however, Norberto Bobbio
in order to explain it refers to the theory of waiver. Although
you prefer morality over politics, there is also an exception in
special cases. For example, the moral precept do not to kill can
be overcome if there is need for self-defence. Monism, there-
fore, both rigid and flexible allows only one reference system.
But, we now turn to the theory of dualism, that is, of those
theories which refer to two spheres: the ethics and politics. The
dualism is divided into apparent and real. We talk about appar-
ent dualism when we do not consider two opposite but two
distinct ones in hierarchical order. In this case falls Benedetto
Croce that while considering both politics and morality, in fact,
hierarchizes morality on politics as morality belongs to the
Spirit and therefore is superior to politics. On the contrary,
Hegel believes that there are two reference systems, but the
political one is superior because reasons of the state are higher
than those of morality. A real dualistic solution without the
possibility of hierarchy is found through the ideas of Machia-
velli, who clearly distinguishes the final actions and the instru-
mental ones. The final actions have an intrinsic value, instru-
mental actions, however, are valid only for their intended pur-
pose that must be achieved. The Machiavelli’s thought is im-
portant because, through the distinction of the actions, totally
separates politics from morality. The politician must be an
amoral individual, because politics has its own ethics and fol-
lows a precise set of rules. From this form of dualism we can
understand that morality and politics become in the course of
history two sets of different rules to follow or, as Max Weber,
two distinct ethics. The ethics of conviction and ethics of re-
sponsibility correspond to moral and political actions that fol-
low established principles (especially the Catholic Church), and
the actions that follow political purposes sometimes amoral.
The map of Bobbio provides us to understand the significance
of the relationship between ethics and politics over the centu-
ries, and to understand the codification of morality from the
conflict between church and state. But, we wonder if morality is
simply ethics or something more.
Ethics of Modernity and Morality of
Throughout the modern age, be ethical means obeying a law
both moral and political, because ethics is a set of norms: moral
norms on the one hand, and political norms on the other. But
we can not deny that in the course of modernity there are events
not moral but anyway defined as ethical because they are able
to follow the law of ethics. It is the case of the holocaust of the
Jews: their executioners defined themselves as ethical since
they obey the law. But can we define them also moral? This
means that modern ethics is a code of behaviour imposed on
men regardless of their will. This particular type of ethics
aimed in fact at the perfectibility of the individual, the idea of a
perfect social order which, however, considers individuals as
mere pieces of a mosaic. There is not the principle of humanity,
the freedom that highlights the morality of the individual. The
modern age is characterized by an ethics without morality, be-
cause morality is an autonomous principle and internal to man.
Morality is not corporate, is not born with the institutions. The
moral comes first. It is social and not societal. Man is a moral
being because he naturally associates to other men and chooses
for the other, in favour of the other. The modern ethical en-
closes the moral of the codification and opens the contrast with
politics through institutional distinction between church and
state. But there is a shift: from modernity to postmodernity.
Postmodernity inaugurates the end of institutional certainties,
the end of the cataloguing of the individual, which rehabilitates
his ambivalence and his humanity. Postmodernity is, on the
contrary, morality without ethics as the ethical law, to which to
trust, becomes principle of the oppression of humanity as sup-
posed to create a social order deporting Jews, cripples, and all
individuals other than the idea of perfectibility. Morality means
freedom of choice, ability to choose what is believed as natu-
rally right since the choice is much more than mere obedience
to an ethical law. The choice is a moral action, a sign of re-
sponsibility and consequent freedom because it places man in
the dimension of his individuality and uniqueness. All of us can
be considered as equipped with an ethic until we respond to the
duty to adopt a certain conduct and the law imposed on us by a
given context. However, to define ourselves as moral beings it
is required responsibility that is freedom and ability to choose
for the others, not only for themselves. In fact, duty makes a
man as his neighbour, but responsibility defines and differenti-
ates it from the others. This is the fundamental distinction be-
tween modern ethics and postmodern morality. One way to
better understand this difference is to refer to two myths: the
myth of Moses and the myth of Adam and Eve. The biblical
myth of Moses is the symbol of modern ethics. He comes down
from the mountain with the tablets of the law in hand carved
directly from God. Everyone has the duty to follow those laws
as imposed from above. Being moral means for this myth an
unconditional obedience. Instead, the myth of Adam and Eve
opens the door to the postmodern conception of morality. Eden
individuals live in the uncertainty of their choice because being
moral means choosing between good and evil. Being free to
choose between good and evil means that the responsibility
takes the place of duty and moral ethics. In addition, the re-
sponsibility signals the freedom of the individual who through
his free choice and his inner sense of right and wrong, is char-
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 367
acterized as a human being. The morality goes beyond the mere
law and codification and shows itself as social but not as socie-
tal. This means that the morality exceeds even the institution,
the structures of society and differs from ethics. Being moral
means to go back to the natural authenticity of man who is a
rational, social and political animal as Aristotle theorized.
The social man is not the societal man and the ethical man is
not the moral man. Responsibility, in fact, is not like duty. It
also refers to the other that is to say my neighbour. For this
being moral means being together in a supportive relationship: I
choose freely according to moral principles, but I do not choose
for ourselves. I choose also for the Other, for the sake of the
Other. I build my being through being for the Other, which is a
selfless act. The Other is regarded as different from me: as the
face of E. Levinas who asserts that “the fundamental experience
is the experience of the Other. The Other is disproportionate
compared to the power and freedom of the ego. The dispropor-
tion between I and Other is precisely the moral conscience. The
moral conscience is not an experience of values, but an access
to the external being [...] the freedom that lives thanks to the
conscience is inhibited in front of other, when I firmly deter-
mine without deceit and subterfuge, his eyes disarmed abso-
lutely unprotected. Conscience is precisely this rectitude. The
face of the Other calls into question the happy spontaneity of
the ego, this joyous force that goe s” (Lévinas, 2002: p. 66). Th is
is the real difference between modernity and post-modernity:
between an ethics without morality and a morality without eth-
ics, which rehabilitates the freedom of choice of the individual,
who is himself by nature plural. And this plurality can be traced
in the relationship with the Other meant as different from me,
that—through its very diversity—is part of the project of every-
one’s life for the construction of the self (Pieretti, 2010). Being
for the Other means to be moral and therefore directly respon-
sible for the free choice that is carried out for the Other meant
as face, that is, not as Other—similar, but as dissimilar as it is
characterized by its different attributes to me: Other is “the
weak, while I am the strong, it is the poor, the widow and the
orphan [...] or is the stranger, the enemy, the powerful” (Lévi-
nas, 1986: p. 87).
From Ethics without Morality to Morality
without Ethics: The Illusory Transit
But the restoration of man’s ambivalence opened by post-
modernity has some problems in the “modern age”. If on the
one hand it is recovered the plurality of man, on the other hand
lack the necessary conditions to ensure that the individual pur-
sues his morality. The erosion of the nation state, global capi-
talism, the exasperated privatization of every aspect of human
life, create a climate of insecurity. In addition, the current ur-
gent institutional crisis refers not so much to the state—in an
era paradoxically called age of hyper-Status (Preterossi, 2011: p.
7): think of Brazil, India, China—as the model of the European
nation state (and European democracies, which in the form the
nation-state were born and developed). In this particular condi-
tion the individual is afraid to choose and find a sheltered place
by choice. This means that in our contemporary reality we see a
paradox: on the one hand the possibility of exercising our re-
sponsibility in the name of freedom and morality, on the other
hand a situation of instability that threatens man and generates
fear and discomfort. But where does this discomfort come?
Mainly from the policies of the global market, which threaten
the state itself. Politics, in fact, is local and the power is lost in
the global economy. It is an invisible power that acts on indi-
viduals by forcing them to choose certain actions mandatory. In
this way a new kind of ethics is generated and is associated
with utilitarianism. This is the ethic of the market: a set of new
rules to which all must adhere in order to be accepted in the
contemporary world. Indeed, it seems that after centuries the
discussed and criticized Jean Jacques Rousseau’s prophecy has
come to pass, that men should be forced to be free. Knowing
and be able to choose means today to be responsible for our
own individuality, self-assertion, “be suitable” to be included—
and then—accepted in a global society that sees the market for
consumer goods as the sole holder of sovereign power, to
which is delegated—by the state itself—the task of establishing
wants and needs, but also the parameters of exclusion and in-
clusion of the subject. The result is that each individual runs
frantically towards the construction of the “self” according to
that model, which in turn is generated by the policies of the
impersonal market, and that catapult us in a misleading reality.
We delude ourselves to be free, to be able to exercise our
morality, but in reality we have a new duty to follow the eco-
nomic power that acts on our identity. The policy fails to con-
tain this dynamics and delegate responsibility to the private
citizen to be admitted in the global economy. For this reason we
seek refuge from the choice as the responsibility is no longer
that of moral freedom, but that of the “ethics of the market”.
Everyone is responsible for its inclusion or exclusion. Everyone
has the duty to adhere to the global norm. The moral sense that
leads to be the other turns to be for themselves as the contem-
porary reality requires a suitable self-construction. The rela-
tionship between ethics and politics no longer exists because
the state sovereignty itself seems now eroded. But there is not
even the moral sense since there is no true freedom and respon-
sibility of choice. The obligation to choose is confused with the
freedom of choice. This is the paradox of globalized existence
which is characterized by the abnormal expansion of markets,
and a rampant consumerism which—in turn—has produced a
forced modification of cognitive, behavioural, economic and
social schemes of wider and wider areas of the globe (Bonvec-
chio, 2011: p. 13). The change is even more problematic when
it falls on the identity of the individual, who must change its
corporeality to look for a suitable subject for the global econ-
omy. In the global society, in fact, are welcome those who are
able to “upgrade” their body based on models that go on for-
ever. Consider, plastic surgery, which, by now, has nothing to
do with the elimination of a physical defect or with the attain-
ment of an ideal form denied by nature or fate. It is connected
with the need to keep up with standard which change rapidly,
with the maintenance of its market value and the elimination of
an image that has exhausted its usefulness or its charm, in order
to replace it with a new public image in one package with a
new identity. Indeed, it seems that the body is the main instru-
ment in the confused and sometimes fragmented search for
identity. And this research generates fear because you are not
sure to make the right choice. For this we turn to plastic surgery
experts, technology and all the means that can be reliable and
provide a guarantee of success. Morality itself, considered as
the principle of free choice, is lost in the ways of power that—a
closer look seems to be a bio-power linked to a bio-economy.
The bio-economy seems, in fact, to go beyond Foucault’s bio-
politics that is characterized by the direct relationship between
politics and life: the state has a direct effect on the life of the
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
individual normalizing and regulating its existence. According
to Foucault’s thought, in fact, bio-power is a modern panoptical
A Form that refers to the idea of the philosopher J. Ben-
tham, which designs an ideal prison—the Panopticon precisely
—with radiocentric structure and one central tower from which
guards can keep in view all monitored people:
Indeed I think that the panopticon can have a very wide ap-
plication and this for the reasons that will soon manifested. In a
word, I think that could be applied, without exception, in all
buildings where a number of people must be kept under control
in an area not too vast to be covered with or dominate other
buildings. It matters little if the purpose of the building is dif-
ferent or even opposite: whether to punish the criminals, moni-
tor the insane, reforming the vicious, isolate suspects, employ
the idle, maintaining the poor, heal the sick, educate those who
want to enter into various sectors of industry, or provide educa-
tion to future generations: in a word, whether it deals with
prison for life, in the chamber of death, or prison isolation be-
fore trial, or penitentiary, or house correction or workhouses, or
factories, or asylums, or hospitals, or schools. It is obvious that,
in all these examples, the purpose of the building will be more
fully achieved if individuals are to be monitored as assiduously
as possible under the eyes of people who should control them.
Ideally, if this is the purpose to be achieved, requires that each
individual was at any time in this condition. Being impossible
all this, the best you can hope for is that at every moment, hav-
ing reason to believe guarded, and not having the means to
secure the contrary, believed to be (Bentham, 1983: pp. 36-37).
Just because of these characteristics, the panoptic model is
taken in different moments of history to highlight the power
relations. We can think about the “Big Brother” of the novel
“1984” by G. Orwell: a totalitarian reality, where every aspect
of life of every individual is controlled by “the eye” of the om-
nipresent state. Or we can consider M. Foucault as well, who
—thinking as feature of the twentieth century a disciplinary
power of control that acts on both the individual and population
—approaches the structure of the Panopticon to biopower.
But, if the power of panoptic control is careful not to evade
the monitored, the new form of power—whose main tool for
monitoring are data banks—selects taking care not to let in
anyone who is not in possession of certain credentials. Here,
“being in the global” means being able to choose and to have
what it takes to join the list of those who count, who is
“equipped” or “suitable”. Contemporary reality looks like, in
fact, the “Città degli uomini finti” by Bontempelli, in which all
are transformed by wearing a “mask” to adapt to a life con-
trived to get away from the sense of unease, alienation, and to
pursue some form of happiness. This is the bio-economy that
gives top priority to the power of the market by removing
power to politics itself. If bio-politics is characterized by a di-
rect relationship between politics and life, today there is the
mediation of market power. This particular phenomenon is the
result of globalization, which is—first of all—an economic
event realized by those who hold the political and social mo-
nopoly. In fact, the true meaning of the policy is lost because it
breaks the relationship between politics and power. Politics is
no longer able to contain the power. This means that the indi-
vidual is given the task of being a global citizen. The responsi-
bility of the individual replaces the responsibility of the state.
The contemporary individual has to create its identity and must
follow precise global standards. If the citizen in the modern age
is part of the model of perfect social order because it follows
the ethics of the state, the law of the state, contemporary man
becomes the individual only following global ethics which is an
utilitarian ethic. Post-modernity is revealed, in fact, as an illu-
sion because it seeks to re-establish the freedom of the individ-
ual in the name of a natural morality which leads to spontane-
ous social gathering. The passage from ethics without morality
to morality without ethics, that is, the transition from the mod-
ern to post-modern age, shows its problems and illusions. In
contemporary times, in fact, t his step is cance lled and is crea ted
a utilitarian ethics and a necessary morality.
The Utilitarian Ethics
Utilitarian ethics and necessary morality are terms that char-
acterize contemporary age. But contemporary utilitarianism is
different from the classic one. It is a form of utilitarian ethics,
which can be defined as global ethics. This means that the con-
temporary utilitarian ethics extends to the whole community
because it represents the standards that all global citizens must
follow. So the citizen who wants to create its identity must
follow the path of the globalized world. A road that is drawn by
global economic systems. The utilitarian ethics, in fact, puts
aside the sovereignty of states and relies on its own sovereignty.
As Singer argues effectively, living in a globalized world
means to follow a single economy, a single policy, a single law,
a single network of information. This is the global ethic that
silently imposes the rules of conduct of each of us. All follow
these rules and are directly responsible for their inclusion in the
global world. The global ethics is different from Hobbes’ utili-
tarian ethics, as it exceeds the conception of contractualism.
Hobbes’ theory, in fact, explains and justifies the absolute
power through the contract of men with the sovereign. This
contract takes place primarily for fear. The fear of death drives
man to give up all his rights to a single sovereign, the king is
unfettered by any law. The right to life is the only right that the
man does not give up and he wants to preserve and defend.
Like all contractualists Hobbes begins with the distinction be-
tween the state of nature and marital status. In the state of na-
ture man is a wolf with respect to the other man. Everyone lives
in a conflict that threatens the lives of everyone. The fear of
death, in this ongoing battle, causes man to leave the state of
nature and enter into civil sectors. In this step, the man relies on
a sovereign who has absolute power but ensures everyone’s
“The only way to erect such a common power, to be able to
defend them from foreign and injustice between them, and
thereby to secure them in such a way that by their own industry
and by the fruits of the earth they may nourish themselves and
live satisfied, is to confer all their power and their strength to a
man or an assembly of men, that may reduce all their wills, by
the plurality of voices, with one will, that is to say, appoint a
man or assembly of men to play the part of their person and
each accept and recognize himself as the author of all that he
upholds the part of their person, or will that be the case, in
those things which grant peace and common security, and sub-
mit it in all their will to the will of him, and all their judgments
to his judgment. This is more than consent or concord is a real
unity of them all in one and the same person made with the
covenant of every man so that every man should say to each
other, I authorize and give up my right of governing myself to
this man, or to this assembly of men, on this condition, that
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 369
thou give up law and authorize all his actions in like manner”
(Hobbes, 1987: p. 167).
This is the justification of absolute power according to
Hobbes. This means that Hobbes regards utilitarianism as re-
search of a selfish pleasure, a private pleasure. Hobbes, in fact,
thinks that politics itself is based on a contract, as there is an
exchange between ruler and ruled. Through this exchange is
formed the foundation of politics. But, for global utilitarianism
the conditions are different. Global utilitarianism and utilitarian
ethics in the contemporary world are not legitimized through a
contract but through the results. All those who are part of the
globalized world must achieve the same results that are im-
posed primarily by the large international markets. It is an eth-
ics that does not come anymore from local institutions, as hap-
pened in the modern era, but from the global and addresses to
the socio-historical context. The obedience to utilitarian ethics
does not come from fear of sanctions, but from the ability to
meet specific needs. The global citizen, in fact, is a client-con-
sumer who wants to satisfy his needs, or perhaps that should
meet his needs as he is forced to be included. A member of the
global community is fully responsible for his own self-assertion,
which, paradoxically, is realized only in being “ideal consum-
ers” remodelling according to eligibility requirements generated
by the market, but above all in being consumer goods, in suc-
ceeding to maintain a “market value”. The failure of this ven-
ture creates a strong personal distress, as it reveals an inability
to adapt to a “society of consumers who outsources, contracts,
and assigns the role of Prometheus to the individuals and the
responsibility for its performance”. The failure falls contempo-
rary man in the dimension of Promethean shame, that “unlike
the challenge and pride, is a feeling totally individual”. This
means that the utilitarian ethics on the one hand seems to ag-
gregate individuals because it acts as global ethics, but on the
other it makes the subject more and more alone. The contem-
porary individual is lonely in the race to adapt. The adaptation
to global, in fact, has a value of urgency because “the real driv-
ing force of the economy geared to consumers is constituted
precisely by the lack of satisfaction and constant renewal and
strengthening of the unshakable conviction that the attempt to
satisfy those desires is at least partially failed” (Bauman, 2007:
p. 12). The concept of conservation, long-lasting good but more
importantly, fixed identity, is replaced with the emergency,
continuous change and uncertainty. No identity is a gift from
birth, no identity is given, and even less so that once and for all
safely. According to the utilitarianistics ethics identities become
projects: tasks to be taken as a commitment to an infinitely
remote completion. This conception of identity as a planning
lead man in front of a challenge. Modern man defies nature,
challenges himself in the belief of “being yourself”, in line with
Sartre’s idea of man that “is nothing more than what you do”.
Transforming your body, acting on it, is not only a practical
realization of a desire, but also a source from which to draw
safety, capacity of possession and dominion over that which is
the most authentic natural unfolding. Acting on the body to
control it, fix it, direct it is the principle of he apparent inde-
pendent decision of man who chooses how he wants to be. But
in order to succeed in the challenge of self-realization, it is
necessary to overcome fear and have the appropriate equipment.
For this reason, “the markets are happy to take advantage of
that fear, and companies that provide consumer goods compete
to act as a reliable guide and help in the tireless effort of their
clients to be up to the challenge. They sell the tools, the equip-
ment required to self-construction that takes place on the indi-
vidual level. “The failure generates discomfort, neurosis—dis-
ease of our time—but, above all, guilt. Guilt is a real strategy of
global ethics as it bends free choice. Being directly responsible
for their own identity—in the era of globalization—means be-
ing personally responsible of the exclusion resulting from the
inability of that Heidegger’s “being in the world”. Indeed, the
physical self-construction takes as its primary objective the at-
tainment of happiness, the contemporary well-being that wants
to meet man’s needs. But these needs are also “false needs”, as
would H. Marcuse, that “it is possible to distinguish between
real needs and false needs. The “false” needs are those that are
superimposed to the individual by particular social interests felt
by its repression: they are the needs which perpetuate toil, ag-
gressiveness, misery and injustice... Most of the needs that
prevail today, the need to relax, have fun, to behave and con-
sume in accordance with the advertisements, to love and hate
what others love and hate, belong to this category of false
needs” (Marcuse, 1979: p. 23).
The false needs project contemporary man in an isolated di-
mension in which we are witnessing the weakening of all social
ties. It is a process of de-socialization of the responsibility of
man, who builds his own identity in a social system supported
by new media. M. Castells calls this new form of socialization
as network individualism which considers man isolated and
seduced by new forms of global power. The emergence of new
media presents a new model of sociability based on the indi-
vidual. The most important role of the Internet in the structur-
ing of social relations is the contribution to the new model of
sociability based on individualism. More and more people are
organized in social networks that communicate via computer.
Thus, it is not the Internet to create a model of individualism in
the network, but it is the development of the Internet to provide
support material suitable for the spread of individualism in the
network as the dominant form of sociability.
Individualism in social network is a model, not a collection
of isolated individuals. This is Castells’ thought which leads us
to consider not just a ‘utilitarian ethics but also a new morality.
We can refer to a moral need. But what does necessary morality
The Necessary Morality
The distinction between ethics of modernity and morality of
post-modernity is based on the fundamental separation between
the law to be followed as set by the state and the inner moral of
man. Ethics and morality are, therefore, two different terms: the
first refers to duty, the second to responsibility. Moral respon-
sibility can develop if there is freedom. Not only freedom to
choose for themselves but also for the good of others. This is
the principle that makes man a social animal and not societal,
because it connects to a relationship of natural solidarity with
each other. Solidarity is part of the moral sense of man’s free-
dom and his humanity. All these aspects seem to be recovered
in the postmodern age because it had opened the doors to the
diversity of man, to the acceptance of plurality in the world to
the idea of social perfection of the modern era. But we have
seen that in our contemporary reality a utilitarian ethics is de-
veloping which is a global ethics for two main reasons: 1) All
individuals must fall within the global economy; 2) Every as-
pect of life is embraced by the global policies. This means that
each of us lives in the global dimension and must be adapted to
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 371
the performance of the global economy. A trend—as we have
seen—which is driven primarily by the market. Analyzing this
situation we can understand that the global economy is creating
a new political and social tissue. At the political level we see a
destabilization of local institutions. At the social level, however,
it changes the concept of solidarity and that of morality. Moral-
ity becomes necessary because each of us must necessarily be
supportive. In other words, we are forced to be moral. Morality
becomes necessary because only through approval to the global
we can survive. Solidarity becomes the economy, the social
organization which, today, proposes circuits of closeness, sup-
ports groups via digital network. To be moral does not mean to
be free but to follow a business that allows us to survive during
the economic crisis that is sweeping Europe and the world. This
is why modern man is no longer the man of 20 years ago. We
are witnessing the end of the exasperated individual freedom
and the creation of new forms of solidarity, new ways of being
moral persons. Modern man is forced into the same need to be
supportive, to engage others who are in his situation. But what
changes between free, natural and authentic and necessary mo-
rality? The missing element is the inability of the global indi-
vidual to think of himself as a project. The economic crisis, the
future uncertainty, the reduction of space and time in which to
express themselves, create discomfort, insecurity and uncer-
tainty. In this atmosphere each one being associated to another
is not for the good for others but for himself: for a need that
maybe hides the true nature of man. A rational and at the same
time social animal—as Aristotle pointed out—in the harmony
of these two terms retraced the true human being. A being is
capable of tending to virtue, which is an ethical and political
aim together because in political action man must rediscover
the unity of ethics and morality, duty and responsibility of hu-
Thanks to Claudio Bonvecchio for his precious advice.
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