The Third Great Awakening?

In the modern West, individual desire is king, and acting on desire is what constitutes authenticity. No doubt liberal philosophers and libertarian pundits would argue that this is perfectly acceptable and coherent as long as such action does not harm anybody else. The problem is that, from abortion to adultery to leaving one’s spouse to “find oneself,” real people are hurt by these actions—the people who depend upon partners and parents to subordinate their own desires to fulfill their responsibilities toward them. Yes, murder and sexual assault are obvious examples of harming others, but they are by no means the only ones. Failure to love and protect our spouses and our children also causes harm—often serious, lifelong harm. Yet these are now valorized in our culture. And that reveals that the limits of what constitutes moral and immoral activity in our contemporary world are somewhat arbitrary and driven by the ethics of authenticity, not the ethics of moral responsibility.

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