With national leaders increasingly seeking moral or religious legitimacy for their public actions, and cross-cultural misunderstandings fueling international conflict, it is time to ask whether there are universal moral truths upon which to base ethical and political judgments. On November 16th, Brookings Senior Fellow William A. Galston moderated a panel discussion of the new book Universalism Vs. Relativism ( Rowman & Littlefield 2006) that debated the notion of compelling moral concepts and their relevance to modern governance. Participants included the volume’s editor, Don Browning, and authors of two of the book’s chapters: Amitai Etzioni and James Turner Johnson.
This event was the first in an occasional series, “Governing Ideas,” hosted by Brookings’s Governance Studies program. The series is intended to broaden the discussion of governance issues through forums on timely and relevant books on history, culture, legal norms and practices, values and religion.