Table of Contents:
The dissertation is concerned with the questions whether moral claims and their presuppositions can be rationally justified, and if yes, in what way. It attempts to answer these questions in a methodical-culturalist way. More specifically, it seeks to establish that a rational moral position can indeed be defended on the reflective level of post-conventional morality and that the validity-claim which such a position involves consists in transculturality.
In the first part of the dissertation it is not only the problems of interpretation and rightness of norms which is discussed but also the same problems as pertaining to statements. The purpose of this discussion is to clarify and rehabilitate the controversial claim that the talk about rightness constitutes rational discourse.
The second part is devoted to considerations which fall within moral philosophy. It is premised on the moral conception of self-determination, which was developed primarily by Kant and Habermas - from the points of view of transcendental philosophy and of the pragmatics of speech, respectively. Nevertheless, my own position diverges from both in that it maintains that morality consists in a sort of self-determination which is founded on reason as it is situated in the context of actions belonging to the life-world. The morality of autonomy, as it is conceptualised on the basis of the pragmatics of action, is developed in connection with the following three issues.
First, the idea of the Self. Its treatment should explain the relationship between morality and identity, since a discussion of a morality of autonomy does not make any sense unless we can recognise in it our own system of values.
The second is the methodical question of how moral norms can be justified. The answer is given by the description of three consecutive steps: finalisation, generalisation and universalisation. The last of these is especially important, for it is through this step that a call to perform some particular action first acquires a claim to universal validity.
The third concerns the source of justification of highstylized moral norms. Here the procedure of universalisation is analysed further within the framework of a methodical reconstruction, which shows how the transition from cultural convention to post-conventional reflection is achieved. Within this framework attention is drawn to the fact that interpersonal normative actions are invariant from person to person, whereas poietic-technical actions are completely person-independent. In other words, the possibility of interpersonal normative action always assumes a relation of acknowledgement between the acting subjects, and thus the moral-noramtive validity-claims are referred constantly to a background consensus, whereas subjects have no relevance for the effectiveness of poietic and technical validity-claims. In the creation of a background consensus the shared culture plays an all-important part, since it offers for the community of acting subjects a framework for the foundation of identity and world view. For this reason, the methodical reconstruction of moral-normative validity-claims should begin with cultural conventions rather than with individual subjects or with artificially constructed moral laws.
It is in this sense that I suggested as a conclusion that the justification of moral-normative validity-claims is directed at transculturality. Since the procedure of universalisation is viewed as an ongoing effort to approach a moral world, transculturality can be conceived as the middle between universalism and particularism.