Human Identity and Otherness
How are we to treat human beings whose moral values, aesthetic ideals, and religious convictions we do not share?
In its search for an answer to such questions today’s globalization ethics stands to benefit from a study of the moral philosophy of Francisco de Vitoria. Criticizing the violent exploitation of the South American natives, Vitoria developed a catalogue of basic moral norms whose validity, he held, reached across any and all cultural boundaries. In the 16th century, that was no minor feat. At the time, it was not uncommon to invoke Aristotle’s theory of ‘natural slavery’ as a probate legitimization of the Christian conquest of South America.