Hegel’s ideas on action, morality, ethics and freedom are still applicable in the contemporary society and it is possible to think of a variety of examples to illustrate Hegel’s standpoint. However, some of his viewpoints should be questioned. For instance, Hegel’s standpoint on the ethical society is too generalized.
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Hegel argues that a society develops certain sets of duties which correspond to universal morals. Nonetheless, the duties and the very morality developed in one society can significantly differ from the norms accepted in another society, so it is impossible to state that ethical norms of a society correspond to the universal norms.
According to Hegel, ethical society is the society where people follow universal moral norms which have been developed throughout centuries (or decades) in this society. However, there have been far too many examples of societies which were based on moral norms that could be questioned. Nazi Germany can be one of such examples as it was moral to humiliate (and even persecute) people who pertained to other ethnic groups.
Admittedly, this conduct can hardly be regarded as the one corresponding to the universal morality. Soviet Union is another good example as the interests of the country were primary and people were often killed and persecuted for the sake of the development of the established order. Importantly, people who lived in those countries followed certain ethical norms accepted in the society, so those societies could have been called ethical societies (according to Hegel’s concepts).
One of the major arguments of the philosopher is that duty should have certain content. Those societies developed duties which had content, but the trajectories of the morality were quite specific. Therefore, Hegel’s ideas concerning the essence of the duty are also rather questionable.
Hegel could have said that such cases had to be regarded as some particular cases which are exceptions. The philosopher could have added that even those societies had a variety of norms which corresponded to the concept of the universal morality.
Nevertheless, these arguments are rather inconsistent as these are not the only examples. In fact, almost every society can have some traditions which contradict the universal morality. These contradictions are often manifested in the attitude towards other nations, the so-called ‘the other’.
As for the other Hegel’s possible argument, it is necessary to state that availability of some ethical norms do not justify existence of traditions and norms which contradict the concept of the universal morality. Thus, a society, where people cherish lives and property of their compatriots and are supportive in every situation, can be hostile to newcomers. People living in this society can believe that murder of other groups can be justified because the latter are unethical. Admittedly, such a society cannot be regarded as an ethical one.
On balance, it is possible to state that Hegel’s concept of an ethical society is rather inconsistent and too generalized. The philosopher states that societies tend to develop traditions which correspond to the universal moral norms.
These societies can be regarded as ethical. However, these societies can hardly be found in reality as there are some ethical as well as unethical norms. Admittedly, if all people followed universal ethical norms, it would be possible to create an ethical society. Unfortunately, many people fail to follow major ethical norms. This leads to development of societies where injustice, violence and crime reign.