Tagged: Ethics

Heinz von Foerster: Ethics and Second-Order Cybernetics. 1990

The following text is a keynote address Heinz von Foerster gave at the “International Conference on Systems and Family Therapy — Ethics, Epistemology, New Methods”, which took place in Paris in 1990. Introduction Ladies and Gentlemen: I am touched by the generosity of the organizers of this conference, who not only invited me to come to your glorious city of Paris, but also gave me the honor of opening the plenary sessions with my presentation.[1] And I am impressed by the ingenuity of our organizers, who suggested to me the title of my presentation. They wanted me to address myself...

Carl Jung: Late Thoughts. 1962

From: Memories, Dreams, Reflections. By C. G. Jung Recorded And Edited By Aniela Jaffé.(abbreviated in the footnotes as AJ) This is the last chapter of the book, and represents Jungs final thoughts on some eternal questions about human nature. He died in 1961, and it was published in 1962. Late Thoughts ANY BIOGRAPHY of myself must, I think, take account of the following reflections. It is true that they may well strike others as highly theoretical, but making “theory” of this sort is as much a part of me, as vital a function of mine, as eating and drinking. What...

Erich Fromm: Humanistic Ethics (1947)

If we do not abandon, as ethical relativism does, the search for objectively valid norms of conduct, what criteria for such norms can we find? The kind of criteria depends on the type of ethical system – the norms of which we study. By necessity, the criteria in authoritarian ethics are fundamentally different from those in humanistic ethics.

In authoritarian ethics an authority states what is good for man and lays down the laws and norms of conduct; in humanistic ethics man himself is both the norm giver and the subject of the norms, their formal source or regulative agency and their subject matter.

Can Ethics be the First Philosophy?

Emmanuel Levinas is a unique philosopher in the 20th century. He redefines traditional philosophy by radically re-thinking it from the point of view of justice, which in his understanding originates in the encounter with the other. For Aristotle, the “first philosophy” is metaphysics: what is the meaning of the verb “to be.” This leads to a whole system of ontology that serves as the background to 2500 years of metaphysical thought.
Levinas suggests a radical turn. “This is the question of the meaning of being: not the ontology of the understanding of that extraordinary verb, but the ethics of its justice. The question ‘par excellence’ or the question of philosophy. Not ‘Why being rather than nothing?’, but how being justifies itself.”

Levinas: Ethics as First Philosophy (1984)

This essay was published for the first time in “Justifications de l’Ethique” (Bruxelles: Editions de l’Universite de Bruxelles), 1984, pp. 41 – 51. I am quoting here from the English translation in “[easyazon_link identifier=”0631164472″ locale=”US” tag=”mainacademicsite-20″]The Levinas Reader[/easyazon_link],” edited by Sean Hand, 1989, p. 76. Ethics as First Philosophy’ is a clear and powerful summary of Levinas’s methodical and yet radical move away from Husserl’s transcendental idealism and Heidegger’s hermeneutics towards the ethical question of the meaning of being, as we encounter it in the face-to-face relation. Beginning with the phenomenological legacy which reveals knowledge as built on an intentionality...

Interfaith Declaration: Code of Ethics on International Business for Christians, Muslims, and Jews (1994)

The following description was written by Simon Webley, of the British-North American Research Association, who also worked on the text itself. INTRODUCTION A series of Interfaith consultations began in 1984 under the patronage of HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, and HRH Crown Prince Hassan Bin Talal of Jordan. Followers of the three monotheistic faiths Christianity, Islam and Judaism took part, under the auspices of St. George’s House, Windsor and the Al Albait Foundation and the Arab Thought Forum in Amman. More recently Sir Evelyn de Rothschild has joined Their Royal Highnesses as a patron in this endeavor. A group of...

What is characteristic about Human Rights?

Human rights are universal: all human beings have these rights, for no other reason than their humanity and the values attached to humanity; this means that human rights precede and trump considerations of national sovereignty and that national sovereignty, therefore, does not provide a means to escape human rights obligations. They are also moral claims, and therefore they are grounded in morality, not just law. They are necessary for the protection and realization of certain fundamental, basic and universal human values and interests. They are instrumental principles in the sense that we don’t want them for their own sake; they are means for the creation of better life quality and not just goals in themselves.

Immanuel Kant: Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals (1785)

The Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals (1785) by Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) is a cornerstone of moral philosophy. It was published in 1785, after the Critique of Pure Reason (1781) and just before the Critique of Practical Reason (1788). It is essentially a short introduction to the argument presented in the second Critique.  Kant argues that morality is based neither on the principle of utility, nor on a law of nature, but on human reason. According to Kant, reason tells us what we ought to do, and only when we follow our own reason are we truly free.  The text suggests several general...

Jeremy Bentham: Principles of Morals and Legislation. 1780

One can also approach ethics from the perspective of usefulness and utility. What will produce the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people? The philosopher associated with this kind of thinking about morality is Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832). In his Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation (1780), Bentham argues that the principle of utility should be the basis of morality and law, and by utility he understands whatever promotes pleasure and prevents pain. Is this principle enough to guide us through the difficult questions of ethical decision-making? Here are some excerpts: Chapter I. Of the Principle...

Ethical Systems

  The picture above suggests a way to integrate ethical systems on the basis of the structure of action. Ethical reflection can begin with the acting subject, the action itself, or the outcome.  Another consideration is the field of application: What actions can be subjected to ethical considerations? (Sneezing or falling from a tree is not an ethical act.) Furthermore, does ethics only apply to actions between subjects, like in the case of lying, or does it extend to other objects, like trees, animals, landscapes, etc.? The table below compares five different approaches to ethics: Relativism, Religious ethics, utlitarianism, deontology,...

Aristotle: Nicomachean Ethics

It’s one of the classics of Western Philosophy. You can find the full text at the Internet Classics Archive, here. Quotes from the Nicomachean Ethics (c. 325 BC): We are not studying in order to know what virtue is, but to become good, for otherwise there would be no profit in it. (NE 2.2) If there is some end of the things we do, which we desire for its own sake, clearly this must be the good. Will not knowledge of it, then, have a great influence on life? Shall we not, like archers who have a mark to aim...

Wittgenstein – Lecture on Ethics. 1929.

My subject, as you know, is Ethics and I will adopt the explanation of that term which Professor Moore has given in his book Principia Ethica. He says: “Ethics is the general inquiry into what is good.” Now I am going to use the term Ethics in a slightly wider sense, in a sense in fact which includes what I believe to be the most essential part of what is generally called Aesthetics. And to make you see as clearly as possible what I take to be the subject matter of Ethics I will put before you a number of...

Confucius – Analects, Excerpts

The Analects, or Lunyu, contain the words and acts of the central Chinese thinker and philosopher Confucius and his students. They were written during the Spring and Autumn Period through the Warring States Period (ca. 475 BC – 221 BC). The Analects are  the main work of Confucianism; the work continues to have a substantial influence on Chinese and East Asian thought and values today. This page contains quotes from the Analects, arranged by the themes found in Confucian Teaching: Jen – Humaneness Junzi (chün-tzu)- the Superior Man, or Gentleman, or Scholar Li – Rites Yüeh –Music Learning and Teaching...

Tao Te Ching

The following introduction is from the Tao Te Ching, Translation by Gia Fu Feng & Jane English. With Comments and layout by Thomas Knierim: “The Tao Te Ching  was written in China roughly 2,500 years ago at about the same time when Buddha expounded the Dharma in India and Pythagoras taught in Greece. The Tao Te Ching is probably the most influential Chinese book of all times. Its 81 chapters have been translated into English more times than any other Chinese document. The Tao Te Ching provides the basis for the philosophical school of Taoism, which is an important pillar...