The resulting pieces are predictably divisive, but admirably assertive in their positions.
When the Panoramic editors suggested ethics as a topic, we were aware that it would force our writers to delve into moral philosophy headfirst. It is not just about what is right or wrong, rather it is how we define these things as such. It demands the confidence to take epistemic risks, knowing that you are frequently incapable of subjecting your hypothesis to any formal scientific testing. The resulting pieces are predictably divisive, but admirably assertive in their positions.
The question of what one identifies with and how this shapes one’s ethical position is a recurring theme in this issue, revealing the power that group identities have to profoundly alter our beliefs. As Karim argues, we must decide who to worship, and in doing so we choose what to celebrate as good and what to decry as evil. His answer - that embracing God is required to avoid the ethical blindness which accompanies the West’s growing nationalism. This is met by sharp opposition in Taleen’s piece, that calls for a Lebanon united through secularism, as a solution to religious sectarianism. Yet, unification, Gisa argues, disguised as an admirable goal, is, in fact, a political weapon used to silence dissent in Kenya. His careful tracing of history sees the birth of African states at the hands of colonisers, each one brutally unified. This misconstrued unity has persisted beyond independence, and the future consequences look grim...
Identity is not the only way in which our ethics are formed - many of our writers consider the influence of new media. Sophie’s interview with prominent British journalist, Tom Chivers, questions the correct use of statistics during the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK and reveals that fact and belief are not as easy to distinguish as one might think. In a “post-truth” world, this obscurity is a recurring theme, with Lyndsey’s piece accusing Netflix of prioritising entertainment above truth, and at what ethical cost? Perhaps it is not just documentaries that are ethically dubious, Genevieve quips, in her analysis of narrative ethics in TV and film. Who decides what is right and wrong for a generation raised on TV? And is it enough to just watch The Good Place?
Yet the question remains, despite all these external factors, how do we, as individuals, shape ethics? Miriam’s piece explores the limits on her individual agency and her responsibility to invoke widespread social change in her home country, Romania - to demand a better future for her children in the face of systemic corruption. Meanwhile, in my own piece, I interview the young Palestinian artist, Aya Ghanameh, whose art takes her personal experience of familial displacement and uses it to demand ethical re-evaluation on an international scale. For her, each individual is an opportunity to spread a new ethical outlook, and in doing so, she builds on a long Palestinian tradition of resistance. Whereas, for Maria, ethical shifts such as the movement against police brutality, naturally involve a polarisation process, one which can end up distorting the cause. In Greece, as across much of the West this has led to a deep political cleavage between the left and the right.
When reading these pieces, the extent to which these issues - identity, media and ethical change - are interlinked becomes clear. The role of media becomes increasingly pertinent in the modern world as a mediator between our changing ethical surroundings and how we assimilate these into our identities. One would hope that in reading these pieces, from across the world, we can make a start at appreciating the common threads that run through these issues, and begin forming solutions that are fit to address them.
I do hope you enjoy reading Panoramic’s Issue 05: Ethics.