Vol. 44 No. 1 (2024): Topographies of Risk. Theoretical Approaches

Risk and Ethical Agnosticism: Morality in the second Modernity

Ivan Rotella
Università della Calabria

Published 2024-06-12


  • Risk,
  • Ethics,
  • Crisis,
  • Dilemma,
  • Agnosticism

How to Cite

Risk and Ethical Agnosticism: Morality in the second Modernity. (2024). Teoria. Rivista Di Filosofia, 44(1). https://doi.org/10.4454/6hgrtv47


The processes of "de-traditionalization" and "individualization" are the two cornerstones around which the turn towards a new modernity and the increased perception of risk that this brings with it revolves, at least in the analysis conducted in Risikogesellschaft. "Reflexive modernization", however, does not only affect the family, political-institutional and social spheres, but also concerns purely ethical aspects that remained in the background of Beckian analysis. This essay therefore aims to investigate the ethical implications of some typically modern dilemmas, highlighting how the notion of risk undermines, in addition to the areas already analyzed by Beck, also the ethical theories typical of early modernity: deontologism and consequentialism. The "well-justified abstention" that Habermas speaks of is not to be understood as a failure of practical philosophy and ethical reflection, but as its natural evolution in the direction of approaches more suited to risk society. The Rehabilitierung der praktischen Philosophie, i in particular the recovery of the perspective of virtue ethics, together with the new relational approaches falling within the paradigm of the ethics of care and the explosion of applied ethics “could therefore be reread as the spontaneous response that ethical reflection found itself forced to give in the context of the new modernity. Ethics itself, similarly to risk, can be considered an anxiety-provoking factor, however, precisely for the purpose of resolving psychic dynamics dominated by the risk-benefit calculation, ethics could also adopt a consideration of risk similar to that which Dufourmantelle has proposed with his In Praise of Risk.