Institute of Philosophy
Russian Academy of Sciences

  Ethical Thought, 2016, vol. 16, no. 2.
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Ethical Thought, 2016, vol. 16, no. 2.





Ruben Apressyan. The Sources of Moral Imperativeness  

A notion of morality as a sphere of general, impersonal and non-situational claims, which personality, which the person performs as an autonomous subject is dominant in philosophical literature. This feature is interpreted as a pivotal one and even comprehensively representing morality. Under such approach morality is escaped as a heterogeneous, multifold phenomenon. Morality manifests itself differently at the levels of personality, interpersonal communication, and group or society; or at the level of individual choice, guilt, and responsibility and the level of public guidance of behavior; or from the side of interaction or from the side of personal excellence, etc. One can distinguish heterogeneity in different functions of morality, specifically, in behavior guidance undertaken at different spheres of individual, communicative, and social practice, in different nature of authority, different kinds of relation between the agent and patient of morality, different forms and means of sanction, etc. Such differences show themselves in a variety of sources of moral imperativeness, that is the nature of authority of moral claims. Though at the highest levels of moral development the person considers herself as the sovereign agent of moral claims and the author of the moral law, the issue of objective source of the moral claims and their value basis is still a topical one. In this context the sources of imperativeness are specified in the article in (a) general cultural notions, (b) social-group standards, (c) situational claims in interpersonal communication.

Keywords: morality, imperativeness, claim, standard, sanction, Locke, Mandeville, Diderot, Kant, Durkheim, James, Levinas, Ricoeur, Habermas, Benhabib, Korsgaard

DOI: 10.21146/2074-4870-2016-16-2-5-19


Leonid Maximov. On Certain Stereotypes of Theoretic Ethics  

The purpose of the article is to show that some well-known concepts are widely used in ethical research, may be qualified as stereotypes, i. e. simplified, standard ideas and approaches are actually taken from common sense and often apprehended by the researchers as self-evident. The stereotypes usually come laden with anachronistic, old-fashioned concepts which prevent the development of ethical thought, and that is why the removal of such obstacles was and is a topical objective of metaethics as a methodological discipline. In that point of view, they are discussed in the Article. Special attention was paid to the most ancient and the most destructive for ethics cognitivistic stereotype, the essence of which is to interpret moral principles and standards, appraisals and imperatives as a special kind of knowledge verified as to truth and false; in that way, the problems of the origin and functioning of the morale are actually substituted by “educating” morale. The subject matter of the critical study also were two stereotypes providing erroneous apprehension of mental mechanisms of moral choice: firstly, popular, accepted by the majority of humanitarians idea of “free will” as the ability of a human to autonomous reliance on certain purposes and committing certain actions, and, secondly, the model of mind and feelings as two different (on their intentions) “subjects” are living in the human “soul” and leading his/her behaviour. All the above ideas have been reasonably criticized in the literature, but not as stereotypes as they are, but as erroneous concepts. The critics, however, is insufficiently effective because the stereotypes don’t stick to rational arguments, but to an intuitive (nonreflexive) assurance of their truth. The comprehension of such fact, according to author’s opinion, can contribute to overcoming thereof.

Keywords: stereotype, ethical theory, normative ethics, metaethics, morality, cognitivism, free will, determinism, responsibility, mind vs. feelings

DOI: 10.21146/2074-4870-2016-16-2-20-33





Olga Zubets. What the Virtuous Person Despises and is Superior to  

The article is devoted to Aristotle’s description of the virtuous person (Great-minded) longing to superiority and despising. The issue is about the superiority in the act (action) which is expressed in leading of the origin of the act up to oneself, to the ruling part of the soul, that is about the superiority of being the moral subject. The main Aristotle’s task is to find out how to confer benefits and not to receive them (that is how to act by oneself) which is a question of being oneself. The unity of Aristotle’s ethics and metaphysics is seen in conceptual unity of δύναμις and ἐνέργεια (both of which are in metaphysics and ethics) with ἕξις and πρᾶξις (the disposition and the act). In metaphysics ἐνέργεια (the actual being) is described as immanence of an aim and being acting one in the act, but in ethics the act is described in the same way. Two leadings up (ἀνάγω): of the origin (ἀρχή) to oneself and of the potency to actuality show an absolute superiority of a person as the moral subject. Leading of ἀρχή (as a sovereignty, not as a cause) up to oneself (aligned with the “cognize yourself”) explodes and denies cause-and-effect relations of the empirical world and creates the a possibility of the self-sufficient act as being the virtuous person. He is a despising one on his own right based on his genuine superiority: his contempt is not an estimation but something like a gesture removing any obstacle to being oneself (that is the absolute origin of the act), excluding any causation besides oneself (because of which Great-minded’s speech is free). Aristotle creates an entire image which personalizes idea of the moral subject and answers a question on human being.

Keywords: Aristotle, ethics, Great-minded, superiority in the act, leading (anago) of the origin up to yourself, energeia, dunamis, hexis, despising, being

DOI: 10.21146/2074-4870-2016-16-2-34-50


Roman Platonov. The Problem of Imperativity in Aristotle’s Ethics  

The aim of the article is to show imperativity as an important element of Aristotle's Ethics, and to verify N. White’s findings that Aristotle’s imperativity is a part of virtue.

In the first part of the article the use of the word deon (ought, right, duty) by Aristotle is analysed. It is concluded that imperative modality is not just present in the texts of his Ethics at the lexical level as an expression of everyday word usage, without any ethical sense, and that it can not be reduced to expressing the standard of the behaviour adopted in the polis, but is a part of describing the process of the development of virtues. It is devoid of any specific content, is not used for the formulation of standards, but reveals moral imperativity functionally, i.e. as correspondence of a human being to his nature.

In the second part of the article, this functional role of imperativity in Aristotle’s philosophy is concretized at the level of possible knowledge about the moral aspect of human existence (ethics), as well as at the level of human existence itself. It is concluded that: 1) at the knowledge level imperativity is the functional connection of episteme (science) and practice, through the principle “a human being is a good human being”; 2) on the existence level, it is: a) a coercive effect of sense of practical wisdom on the ethical virtues and vice versa (which can be interpreted as the effect of forming a virtuous frame of soul, that is the impact of the formal cause), b) a manifestation of existential priority of virtue over vice in the impact on human behavior (which provides the stability of the proper development, and consequently, can be considered as an effect of the final cause).

Keywords: moral imperativity, ethics, virtue, practical wisdom, duty, deon, sophrosyne, Aristotle, Macintyre, White

DOI: 10.21146/2074-4870-2016-16-2-51-69


Pavel Matveev. Philosophy of the Act by Mikhail Bakhtin (experience of the ethical interpretation)  

The article is devoted to Michail Bakhtin’s conception of the Act, which was developed in the essay The Philosophy of the Act. Special attention is given to the ethical aspects of Bakhtin’s teaching and also to the research methodology in dealing with the complex ethical problem of the individual act.

The article shows that Bakhtin was not the only one, who asked such questions in Russia at that time. The Philosophy of the Act was prepared by certain historical, cultural factors. Bakhtin showed, that in the research of the act we should proceed from a particular sole and single person. We discover her special features such as responsibility as the essential one, and rationality and oughtness as subordinate to it.

The article notes that Bakhtin distinguishes several types of responsibility. However, the main idea of the essay is not the study of responsibility, but the presentation of a whole plan of that act which, on the one hand, is associated with the sole and single responsible entity and, on the other hand, with the objective culture.

The article examines Bakhtin’s criticism of ethics as philosophical conception of morality: the philosophy of the Act can only be constructed from within the Act, but theoretical philosophy and traditional ethics are not able to do that. It is better to use phenomenology, axiology and value approach. It is shown, that Bakhtin did not deny the importance of value-based approach to the teaching on the person, his life and deeds but tried to study the person’s acts using the concept of value.

The article examines Bakhtin’s methodology using the example of his analysis of artworks. It is noted that Bakhtin’s ideas and his methodology should be used for the ethical analysis of the person’s acts.

Keywords: act, ethics, phenomenology, axiology, responsibility, duty, context, true, value

DOI: 10.21146/2074-4870-2016-16-2-70-83


Ilshat Nasyrov. On Ash’arite ethical voluntarism as the traditional ethics of Islam  

There is a stereotype that the ethical teaching of Ash’rite theological school in Islam is the traditional Islamic ethics. This thesis is based on the premise that Ash’arism is the official doctrinal school in Islam.

The present article studies another approach to the evaluation of “ethical voluntarism” of Asharites. The author supplies new evidence showing a weakness of the approach, which stresses the Ash’arites ethics as the traditional Islamic ethics. According to the author, the ash’arite ethical teaching rejected by Hanbalites can not be considered as the traditional ethics of Sunni Islam. Ash’arism did not become the orthodox theological view and therefore the ash’arite ethics can not be regarded as the ethics generally accepted by Sunni Muslims.

In recent years the rise of Islamic Fundamentalism associated with Hanbalism this fact embodies Muslim traditionalism demonstrates the falsity of the assumption that ash’arite ethics is the traditional ethics in Islam.

Keywords: ethical voluntarism, al-Ash’arī, Shari’a, traditional ethics of Islam, ethical objectivism, Kalam

DOI: 10.21146/2074-4870-2016-16-2-84-105





Andrey Prokofyev. On the Moral Significance of Shame  

The paper shows that shame remains the important moral phenomenon despite being the reaction to an actual or imaginary external blame or ridicule. The first step of the research is the reconstruction of the old tradition to interpret shame as the pain from ignominy or the painful anticipation of possible ignominy. The tradition goes back to Aristotle and is relatively widespread in modern cultural anthropology (conception of ‘cultures of shame’ and ‘cultures of guilt’), sociology (the T. Scheff’s identification of shame with the reaction to the threat to the social bond), and psychology (the P. Gilbert’s hypothesis of the inseparable tie between shame and the management of social attractiveness). In ethical theory shame is described as a moral sanction of peculiar kind: ideal but not completely internal. The shame feeling falls beyond the scope of moral phenomena if we presuppose that all moral sanctions are internal. This supposition is usually inferred from the thesis that genuine moral perfection can be attained only through completely autonomous choice (other version: moral perfection is identical with the capacity to autonomous choice). To defend the moral status of shame the author uses two strategies. First one is to demonstrate that shame feeling is not so heteronomous to be independent from moral believes of the ashamed person. The second strategy is to propose such an understanding of morality that allows partly heteronomous character of moral motivations.

Keywords: moral self-evaluation, moral emotions, shame, moral sanctions, moral autonomy, heteronomous motivations in morality

DOI: 10.21146/2074-4870-2016-16-2-106-122


Vladimir Bakshtanovky. Ethics of Success: From Ideological and Moral Doctrine to Project-oriented Specification in Values of High Professions  

Within the project-oriented specification and ethical-ideological doctrine the problematization of ethics of success is actualized by the success value crisis. On the one hand, there is an extent and fineness of the achievability pathos; on the other hand, there is massification of “escape from success”. The evidentness of the crisis is in the alternative of moral choice: a desire for success at any cost or “escape from success" to avoid a situation of success at any cost. Is it rational in this situation to actualize the ethics of success (in ethical-praxeological and worldview aspects), which constitutes a moral justification for success motivation and aspiration for the height of success as well as to cultivates pride of achievements and sets decent benchmarks (but at the same time, to formulates required restrictions)? Today, the ethics of success can become a driver for development of regulatory and value systems of different professions, which, in its turn, should become a driver for development of society-wide morality. This article examines paths of the domestic ethics of success doctrine. The emergence of the doctrine is associated with the start of post-perestroika modernization of Russia, with ambition to raise a role of success value to its participation in the formation of value-emphasized variants of the national-wide idea. The stage of conceptual development of the doctrine occurs in the process of its application (specification) to the new (for the post-Soviet situation) regulatory and value subsystems of a rational morality of the becoming civil society (ethics of professional success, ethics of success in politics and business, etc.). The stage of the development of the doctrine is associated with the ethical mastery of the achievability orientation in such professional fields as upbringing, journalism, scientific and educational activities. Today, the innovative potential of the doctrine, i. e. the project-oriented specification of the ethics of success in high professions, has been activated. The experience of the implementation in a cultivation of value of success has been shown by the example of development of the professor ethics and the engineer ethics. One of the ways of the specification is the technology of humanitarian expertise in the format of “rector's seminar” is developed within the innovation paradigm.

Keywords: ethics of success, innovation paradigm of applied ethics, moral choice, professional ethics, technology of humanitarian expertise

DOI: 10.21146/2074-4870-2016-16-2-123-141





Leonid Yakushev. Contemporary Transformations of Just War Theory  

The paper analyses two central changes occurring in the contemporary Just War Theory: a partial justification of preventive war and an elaboration of principles regulating warfare that involves non-state actors. A substantial contribution to the solution of these problems was made by American ethicists and political philosophers David Luban and Nicholas Fotion. The main goal of this article is to reconstruct the historical, ethical and theoretical context of their researches. The problem of the justification of preventive war has a long history. Medieval theologians (and their successors – neoscholastics) regarded preventive war as obviously unjust. On the contrary, many modern thinkers consider it to be justified because it helps to maintain the world balance of power. By the mid-twentieth century consensus on the impermissibility of preventive war had developed again in political ethics. However, recently some military-technological and political changes have led to its disappearance and the renewal of debates. Luban’s conception of “restricted doctrine of preventive war” is a striking example of this process. A similar situation occurs with moral principles regulating conflicts involving non-state actors. The thesis about the impossibility to justify military activity of non-state actors was generally recognized in the just war theory reflecting the realities of the Westphalian international order. The moral grounding of this idea was provided by Samuel von Pufendorf and Emer de Vattel. This approach seems to be over-restrictive as it blocks any effective means to counteract repressive political regimes. At the same time, the application of principles regulating sate-versus-state warfare to the civil armed conflicts leads to a number of paradoxical results. The way out proposed by Fotion is this: the “irregular” just war theory, specially designed for state-versus-non-state wars, should rule out the symmetric application of these principles to different sides of such conflicts. Thus, the new normative system allows the warring parties of different types to pursue their goals and at the same time minimizes the use of armed force and its consequences.

Keywords: morality, just war theory, preventive war, preemptive strike, non-state actors, David Luban, Nichlas Fotion

DOI: 10.21146/2074-4870-2016-16-2-142-154


David Luban. Preventive War  

The natural starting place for discussing the problem of preventive war is Michael Walzer’s justification of the legalist paradigm. The author recasts it in rule-consequentialist terms. The main question is whether a general doctrine of preventive war to forestall relatively distant threats is morally defensible. The answer is negative. Following Walzer, the author fears that giving a green light to preventive war would make wars too frequent and too routine. However, he believes that a more restricted form of the doctrine, which permits preventive war against serious threats posed by rogue states, is sound. There is a catch, however. The target of the threat, not third parties, may launch preventive war; and this may not cover the case of the Iraq war. Then the author considers in more detail the necessary restrictions on a defensible doctrine of preventive war. If preventive war can be justified against rogue states posing serious threats, it seems natural to extend the doctrine to rogue states involved with terrorist organizations, but only if the terrorist organizations pose large-scale threats: thus the focus on weapons of mass destruction in the National Security Strategy provides a reasonable restriction on preventive war against states involved with terrorism. The permission to launch preventive war should also be restricted to situations in which the target poses physical threats to a state’s people and homeland, not simply threats to economic interests in an elevated standard of living; and the gravity of the threats must arise from the intentions of the target state. Otherwise, the doctrine of preventive war justifies too many wars.

Keywords: political ethics, rule-consequentialism, general doctrine of preventive war, restricted doctrine of preventive war, rouge-states

DOI: 10.21146/2074-4870-2016-16-2-155-168


Nicholas Fotion. Two Theories of Just Was 

As it is traditionally conceived, Just War Theory is suited well for dealing with nation-versus-nation wars and not with nation-versus-non-nation wars. It thus makes sense to create a second Just War Theory to deal with these wars and to formulate principles that impose constraints on them. The article explores the differences and similarities between the two theories. The first theory covers principles that sides in war should equally obey both before they made a decision to enter the war and in the course of the war. They are just cause principle, likelihood of success principle, last resort principle and discrimination principle. The second theory admits some asymmetry in abidance by the principles. In fact, it cancels the legitimate authority principle and the likelihood of success principle for the non-state side (like a non-state rebel, irregular or guerrilla organization) in conflict. And it modifies the just cause principle, allowing the possibility for the nation to make a preventive attack which is not permissible in nation-versus-nation wars. It also weakens the last resort principle for the nation. But the discrimination principle, that makes impossible to attack old folks, children, medical care providers, the clergy, hospitals, schools, homes of civilian population, and the like should be unchangeable for both war parties. No reasons have been thought of as sufficient for cashiering of the discrimination principle. It is emphasized that both Just Wars Theories face different kinds of problems but they are not unresolvable. The article analyses some applications of the theories.

Keywords: Just War Theory, just cause principle, likelihood of success principle, legitimate authority principle, last resort principle, humanitarian intervention

DOI: 10.21146/2074-4870-2016-16-2-169-186

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