Ethics and collective identity building: Scandinavian semicommunication and the possibilities of Philippine ethics
Keywords:social ethics, collective identity, multiculturalism, Scandinavian semicommunication, receptive multilingualism, Philippines
How should national societies build legitimate and inclusive collective identities amidst prolific multiculturalism and linguistic diversity? We argue that cultural ownership of particular ways of framing ethics should be part of this collective identity building process. We should avoid unfair domination of minority cultural identities, but how do we do this when ethical discourses themselves tend to be shaped by particular dominant identities? We look into the case of the challenges that a particular multicultural society, the Philippines, faces in its ongoing collective identity building project on three levels: (1) ethnic and linguistic differences (e.g. differences between Tagalog, Cebuano, Maranao, etc.), (2) the historical layers of foreign culture (e.g. Islamic, Spanish, and American) that have each influenced these distinct cultural identities in different degrees, and (3) the apparent domination of Tagalog linguistic culture over others. Our answer to the question of legitimate and inclusive collective identity comes from an inter-linguistic dialogue that can be effected between cultures by harnessing similarities of ethical concepts, without compromising cultural differences. We present three different possible approaches under the following headings: (1) Pilipino ethics, (2) Filipino ethics and (3) Philippine ethics, each representing a particular stance to the dominant Tagalog linguistic culture. We argue for the third option, which is the most inclusive because of how it equalizes the status of all participating cultures in the dialogue. We also draw from the possibilities afforded by the phenomena of Scandinavian semicommunication (Haugen 1966) and what this practice offers in making collective identity building more inclusive.