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Professor Peter Kunzmann
researcher at the Ethics Centre at Friedrich-Schiller University in Jena

My own field of research is Applied Ethics. Its future looks bright. For there will be a growing need of qualified counselling facing ever heavier struggles on legal and moral issues. These struggles will rise not only because new technologies will bring up new questions. They will rise because cultural gaps will broaden or at least, these gaps will become more visible. Globalisation will get people in touch who may have rather contrasting ideas on how to live on this planet. Encountering Islam is just one example. Encountering different peoples within the EU is another. Encountering your neighbour’s queer opinions on abortion is yet another one. Or on animals. Or on genetic enhancement. Modern society will need to tackle these disputes beyond just finding legal compromise.

We should learn to understand that diverging judgements on the ethical issues at hand are deeply rooted in a different weltanschauung or conflicting attitudes towards broader questions: Is nature more than a bulk of resources? Are human beings just animals? Does progress really lead to better lives for people? I must sound old fashioned but this type of understanding needs education, education, education. No news: It will be a continuous task to keep brains going not only in schools – for, unfortunately, the current catchphrase in the mass media is ‘short-simple-stupid’. This is the opposite of what is needed.

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