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As the title of this companion set of essays in ethics to Modernities: Histories, Beliefs, and Values published at the same time, the expression “soliciting” is used more particularly than in ordinary everyday usage. For the most part “solicitation” here means a person or a group of persons seeking to obtain not just something generally. Specifically, “solicitation” here means persons’ seeking especially some fundamental ethical recognition in their evident destitution by entreating other persons both to recognize and to act upon their shared humanity. This more particular sense of “solicitation” corresponds to the now globalized awareness of very great numbers of persons today still continuing to suffer not just from poverty but from extreme poverty or destitution. Despite however the general decrease in the number of persons suffering from poverty, the number of those suffering from destitution has, as Essay Three documents in detail, largely remained stable. That is, the nature of the situations of very many persons persists in soliciting the moral and ethical effective concern of almost all. Responding not inappropriately to such solicitations in sufficient measure however would seem to require second thoughts about the nature of human beings and persons as fundamentally contingent beings. Such responses moreover would also seem to insist on distinguishing sharply between the moral and the ethical, between roughly what is mainly a matter of obligation and what is mainly a matter of value. Trying to understanding these matters less generally is the main point of the introductory and concluding essays about situations in Japan and the Sudan outside the more usual range of Western European reflection, together with the pairs of essays gathered in each of the three sections below.
Peter McCormick is Fürst Franz Josef and Fürstin Gina Emeritus Professor of Ethics at the International Academy of Philosophy in Liechtenstein. He is former Professor of Philosophy at the University of Ottawa, and is a member of the Institut international de philosophie (Paris) and a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Canada. In the libri nigri he published the books Blindly Seeing. Essays in Ethics: Discourses, Sayings, Sufferings and In Times Like These. Essays in Ethics: Situations, Resources, Issues.
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