I have had the recent pleasure of being invited to represent the College of Human Sciences in the UCD project “We need to talk about ethics because…” which is part of The President of Ireland’s Ethical Initiative. Not only was it a pleasure and an honour to represent the UCD College of Human Sciences in this project but it was also an exciting opportunity to meet President Michael D. Higgins, a fellow sociologist. My conversation with President Higgins was brief but memorable.
In conversations over recent days I have been discussing my involvement with the UCD project and for many people ethics are an abstract, existing within the space of theory and jargon. Yet whether we are aware or not, ethics shape and influence our lives, directly and indirectly.
I believe we need to talk about ethics because … Irish women and men need truth in their lives.
Ethics can provide direction when in difficult times, can uncover inequality and injustice, and can ensure the safety and progression of future generations. Irish society has experienced many difficulties in recent times, most notably economic recession and the resulting austerity, which has impacted on individuals, families and communities. Truth and morality have at times waned in Irish society. Those with responsibility for social governance have in the past been ethically anemic. Truth at the very highest levels of society has often been sparse.
Not only do we need truth at the highest level of governance but we also need truth at individual personal level. Ethics provide the means of attaining and maintaining truth. My own research interest lies in the performance of gender, specifically masculinity. Historically Irish society was rich in falsities that ensured the 'legitimate' dominance of men and contributed to gender inequality. Ireland was for a sustained period ‘a man’s world’. Patriarchal dominance has been challenged and greater gender equality exists today in Ireland. The advancement of gender equality has been progressed by ethical reasoning and activism. Irish women and men need and deserve truth in their lives; and this can only be achieved by sustained ethical debate to direct and inform social morality.
© Clay Darcy, February 2014