Institute of Philosophy
Russian Academy of Sciences

  Ethical Thought, 2018, vol. 18, no. 2.
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Ethical Thought, 2018, vol. 18, no. 2.




Ioannis A. Tassopoulos. Hobbesian Impartiality in Constitutional Law: Claims of Justice and Claims for Justice

Starting from Hobbes’s silver rule of impartiality “quod tibi fiery non vis, alteri ne feceris” the paper discusses the constitutional tensions between claims of justice, which ground their impartiality on the equality between men, regarding their dependence on basic needs; and claims for justice, which are also made in the name of impartiality, but are grounded on liberty and responsibility, resulting out of the common capability of men to pursue their interest as rational planners. Their difference, in terms of impartiality, is that the former present redistribution, for purposes of guaranteeing equal opportunities for all, as a matter of procedural impartiality, while the latter take distribution to be a matter of personal responsibility, falling primarily within the ambit of proportional equality and distributive justice. The paper discusses the corresponding constitutional forms and sociopolitical implications, depending on the prevailing conception of impartiality. Each notion of impartiality has its proper power structure, for the realization of the respective constitutional ends: the focus of the former is on legislation providing for social rights; the focus of the latter is on individual rights and judicial review. But the interplay between claims of justice and claims for justice cannot be settled once and forever. Constitutional democracy, to overcome their friction and tension without undermining political liberalism, has to disprove Hobbes’s pessimism on rhetoric and public deliberation; for this to happen, however, it is necessary to recognize that impartiality is more than a matter of prudence; rather it is a virtue associated with civility.

Keywords: Hobbes, constitutional law, politics, silver or golden rule of impartiality, impartiality, liberty, equality, justice, needs, prudence, social rights, liberal state, welfare stat

DOI: 10.21146/2074-4870-2018-18-2-5-21

Daniil O. Aronson. (De)construction of Identities and the Limits of Ethics

In contemporary philosophy, especially Anglo-American, it is often taken for granted that in various fields, such as politics, economy and law, human conduct can be guided by ethical rules. It is also widely held that it is a legitimate philosophical task to seek and find such rules. The article shows that the possibility of an ethical standpoint depends on certain conditions that may or may not be present in a given situation. Namely, in order for an ethical standpoint to be possible, the identities of the participants in the situation must be determined and must not be contested. Otherwise, an ethical perspective on the situation becomes problematic for both the participants themselves and observers. To the extent that identities are ethically relevant they are grounded in certain performative acts and, therefore, they can end up being put into question or rejected if those acts are not performed or simply fail. When this is the case, there appears a situation, which it is difficult to treat in terms of ethics or normative theory in general, for the situation consists precisely in the questioning of the source of existing norms.

Keywords: ethics, idenitity, theory of speech acts, performative theory of identity, John Austin, Judith Butler

DOI: 10.21146/2074-4870-2018-18-2-22-32


Leonid V. Yakushev. Moral Universality and Justification of Human Rights

The paper analyses four theoretical approaches to the justification of the universal status of human rights (intuitionism, constructivism, communicativism and communitarianism). The analysis is focused on their differences with regard the role of constructivist procedures and dialogue. In the intuitionist model, these elements are unnecessary because the fundamental moral principles are considered by intuitionists as self-evident. However, due to the significant divergence of moral intuitions among different actors, the potential of the intuitionist model for justifying the universal status of human rights is rather limited. The constructivist approach takes into account weak points of intuitionism and appeals to the ability of every human being to choose his/her actions on the basis of practical reasoning. According to their opinion, any reasonable individual cannot but recognize the rules arising from practical reasoning in conditions optimal for practical reasoning. One of the most influential versions of constructivism identifies the constructivist procedure with the search for the hypothetical general agreement. Though, the hypothetical agreement of imaginary actors does not guarantee the agreement of real actors. This is a serious obstacle to the justification of the universality of human rights on the constructivist basis. The proponents of the other two approaches try to overcome it. Supporters of the communicative ethics believe that only those norms that have been approved by the participants of the real discourse are morally justified. Communitarians try to build a global consensus of different cultural communities on human rights. The foundations of this consensus are 1) common normative features of major cultural traditions, 2) a capacity of cultural communities to a partial redefinition of their identities. Despite the fact that both models remove some difficulties of constructivism, the key issue, how can representatives of different cultures recognize “others” with their special values and norms not in theory but in reality, remains unresolved. The paper concludes that the all four approaches are insufficient for justifying the universal status of human rights.

Keywords: morality, human rights, universality, intuitionism, constructivism, communicati-vism, communitarianism

DOI: 10.21146/2074-4870-2018-18-2-33-45




Aleksei V. Appolonov. The concept of Practice and Practical in the Philosophy of Roger Bacon

The article presents the key elements of the philosophy of Roger Bacon (c. 1220 – c. 1290) in their connection with the ideas the English thinker had about the tasks and functions of single philosophical and scientific disciplines. The author shows that Bacon set his focus on the notion of “utilitas” (“utility”), and that whole his philosophy was entirely practically oriented one. For him, all scientific disciplines – from grammar to “experimental science” (scientia experimentalis) – should be put into service of the most “noble” and purely practical “moral philosophy”, which not only provides the person with the knowledge necessary for a happy life in this world, but also leads him to the sacraments of the Christian religion, granting eternal beatitude in heaven. Author adds, that Bacon methodologically justified the applicative role of certain scientific disciplines, which are “necessary and useful” for all others. So, Bacon drew attention to the special role of mathematics. From the fact that only mathematics, as he thinks, has “most potent proof” (demonstratio potissima) based on “necessary causes”, Bacon concludes that it is necessary to mathematize natural sciences and uses the laws of geometrical optics as a universal model. Likewise, Bacon ascribes special “utility” to “experimental science”, whose function, in his opinion, is to validate at an experimental level the theoretical conclusions of other sciences.

Keywords: Roger Bacon, ethics, practical knowledge, medieval science, scholasticism, faith and reason, Christian theology            

DOI: 10.21146/2074-4870-2018-18-2-46-55


Margarita A. Korzo. Orthodox Moral Theology of the 17th Century and its Peculiarities: “Mir s Bogom čeloveku” (Kiev 1669)

The article is dealing with the first Orthodox handbook for confessors, entitled “Mir s Bogom” (Kiev 1669), which was prepared in the Kiev Lavra and marked a break with the earlier Orthodox tradition of moral theology. This work is mostly a compilation of three treatises by the Polish Dominican Mikołaj z Mościsk (1559–1632), complemented by excerpts from the “Summa of Theology” of Thomas Aquinas, “Summa casuum conscientiae” of Francisco de Toledo, the decree “On justification” of the Council of Trent, the “Roman Catechism”, the “Decree of Gratian”, and various essays of the seventeenth century Catholic moralists. The structure and content of “Mir s Bogom” indicate the orientation of its compilers on the forms of the presentation of moral theology that had been established in the Catholic tradition by the end of the sixteenth century (the so called “Institutiones morales” and manuals on confession), having a typical emphasis on the problem of the sin and moral obligations and omitting of such issues as virtues, happiness, or man’s final end and beatitudes. “Mir s Bogom” was the first attempt in the East-Slavic Orthodox tradition to present the basics of the Christian moral teaching by stressing the practical aspects of the faith. It was novel in its effort to create and standardize terminology dealing with the sacrament of penance. Through “Mir s Bogom”, many moral concepts of the Catholic theology were incorporated into the Orthodox literature. The work gained also great popularity in Russia and constituted the basis for a number of manuscripts on how to celebrate the penance, but was not used in the Kiev and Moscow Academies as a textbook on moral theology.

Keywords: Catholic and Orthodox moral theology, Orthodox manuals on confession, “Mir s Bogom” (Kiev 1660), Metropolitanate of Kiev, Catholic influences

DOI: 10.21146/2074-4870-2018-18-2-56-71


Olga V. Artemyeva. The Problem of Moral Capacity in Early Modern Moral Philosophy

In the paper the problem of moral capacity is considered on the basis of moral and philosophical teachings of Cambridge Platonists, sentimentalists and rationalist intellectualists. The significance of the problem was determined by the fact that it was discussed in direct connection with the conceptualization of morality and justification of its special features such as absoluteness and autonomy. The problem of moral capacity was stated as a problem of foundation of morality, it was vigorously debated, and the debate was focused on the question of nature of moral capacity, which was posed as a dilemma between reason and sense. While discussing the problem of moral capacity, philosophers deliberated the conditions of possibility of morality on the level of individual: the individual should be able to distinguish between good and evil, just and unjust, right and wrong, make decisions and choices, relying on her/himself and not on any external guidance. And these decisions and choices should be independent of inclinations and separated from any private interest. Moral capacity ensured the autonomy of moral agent.

The controversy on the problem of moral capacity was determined by the different views on the specificity of morality: intellectualism identified morality with all-governing universal law immanent for the human being, who perceive it by means of intuitive reason. For sentimentalism morality was a specifically human property and it was considered as an emotive and volitional sphere which required a very special human capacity that is a moral sense.

Keywords: morality, foundations of morality, moral capacity, reason, moral sense, intuition, Cambridge Platonism, sentimentalism, rational intuitionism

DOI: 10.21146/2074-4870-2018-18-2-72-85


Alexei A. Skvortsov. War in Vasily Vereshchagin’s philosophical worldview

The paper is devoted to the analysis of Vasily Vereshchagin’s (1842–1904), the greatest Russian battle painter, ideas concerning war. Based on the analysis of paintings, as well as Vereshchagin’s literary and journalistic works, the paper shows that his worldview was rather original and can be defined properly as philosophical one. Vereshchagin’s work paradoxically combined humanistic, pacifist and militarist-patriotic motives. The ideological framworks of Vereshchagin’s paintings was formed under the influence of what he saw on numerous voyages. The painter identified his independent point of view as realism.

The peculiar features of Vereshchagin’s paintings are the depersonalization of military subjects’ heroes, placing them in deliberately uncomfortable poses. In Vereshchagin’s attitude to the war one can discern the influence of Leo Tolstoy, who emphasized the importance of the unconscious forces driving people in the war. Tolstoy’s motif is also appeared in the ironic vision of well-known historical figures. The author concludes that Vereshchagin considered the war as a natural disaster that will always accompany the development of society. But Vereshchagin is interested not only in the problem of war itself, but even more the situation of a human being in the war. As we can see from his paintings, in the face of grave danger a person can show his/her best qualities. But the war itself, as the movement of the crowds, realizing armed violence, in the Vereshchagin’s thought, cannot lead to anything good.

Keywords: Vasily Vereshchagin, war, philosophy of war, painting, humanism, militarism, realism, crowd

DOI: 10.21146/2074-4870-2018-18-2-86-98

Vladimir V. Mironov, Dagmar.W.H. Mironowa. Virtuous Terror, or Who Defines the Boundaries of Freedom of Speech (Reflecting on the Works of Thilo Sarrazin)

The article is devoted to the analysis of the latest books of Thilo Sarrazin, the author of social and political and publicistic bestsellers, famous in Germany, which caused extensive public discussions and rejection of Sarrazin’s ideas, mainly on the level of ruling elite and mass media. The author raises sensitive issues about the current state of freedom of the press, speech, opinion, religion in Germany. In his opinion, instead of real freedom, the state implements a kind of a model of “new ideology”, the consolidation of which is facilitated by modern media. In fact, it is a form of new, ideological “virtuous terror” which thoroughly regulates what it is correct or incorrect to speak about and discuss publicly. Norms of acceptance or rejection of certain ideas imposed by the ruling elite are appeared in the form of a kind of taboo, which Sarrazin designates as “axioms of virtuous madness”. They are ambiguously perceived in society, however, due to the general position of media this fact is ignored, and the spread of “oppositional” to the official line views is often blocked.

Keywords: Thilo Sarrazin, “virtuous terror”, freedom of the press, speech, opinion, religion in Germany, political correctness, mass media, principle of equality, “axioms of virtuous madness”

DOI: 10.21146/2074-4870-2018-18-2-99-115


Ruben G. Apressyan. Lukas van Leyden, J. Huizinga, And the Space of Play

Lukas van Leyden, a Dutch artist of the early 16th century, was born in Leyden and spent there almost all his life and the 20th century Dutch scholar of the history of culture Johan Huizinga was a Professor of Leyden University for more than three decades. What they have in common is not only the city of Leyden, to which they below, but their interest in the play. Huizinga proposed a theoretical account of the phenomenon of play in Homo Ludens, a book, which has remained to be the most fundamental in the field till our days and Lukas depicted a play in a number of his art works. The paper is intended to effect a semantic analysis of Lukas’ painting, Chess Players (in parallel with some other play depicting art works), and critical reflection on some key passages of Huizinga’s book. The painting, Chess Players, is reviewed against the assumption of presence a matrimonial oriented meta-narrative in it. A correlation of the painting’s narrative (given in a plot) and meta-narrative (the painting’s assumed content) leads to a super-narrative, which allows to figure out in Lukas’ work a kind of “conceptualization” of a phenomenon of the play, which is peculiarly interesting in regard to the features of the play in Huizinga’s theory of play and a notion of ‘play-element in culture’, which he coined. Huizinga proposed an influential idea, according to which the play has a normative function in culture. So far, this function does not belong to the play only, one should specify it in the context of the play, better on a basis of deeper differentiation of various plays performing the normative function in diverse ways. This deals with such kinds of play as play-competition, play-ceremony, play-examination, play-training, and so forth. Additionally, a discrimination of the play as sociocultural phenomenon and phenomena which contain play-element is needed. A set of the play features, which Huizinga figured out, and their relevance to play-elements in culture should be accepted as a basis of such discrimination.

Keywords: play, play-element in culture, J. Huizinga, Lukas van Leyden, Chessplayers, Master E.S., Love Garden, M.M. Bakhtin

DOI: 10.21146/2074-4870-2018-18-2-116-128

Ekaterina Al. Koval. Normativity, Play, Morality: The Act of “Homo Ludens

Activity of homo ludens is an object of different ways of normative regulation. The article analyzes the impact of play and moral normativity on homo ludens. Play normativity and game normativity have similar features, but they also have different sources of normativity as well as subjects and objects of normative regulation, the degrees of normativity of play and moral norms for homo ludens.

The author tries to answer the questions: should homo ludens always follow the moral requirements in the play space? Can acts of homo ludens be regarded as moral? From this point of view, four cases are discussed. The acts can:

1) violate fair play, but comply with moral norms;

2) violate moral norms, but comply with fair play;

3) violate both fair play and moral norms;

4) threaten the existence of the world of play as a whole.

In the latter case, the acts evaluation of the offender (spoil-sport) depends on the play evaluation. If the spoil-sport shatters a good play, his acts are not normative. Vice versa, if the spoil-sport destroys a bad play, he does the right thing.

The author concludes that homo ludens in the context of play’s space and time of play is not only a responsible player, but also a responsible moral agent. If his play is morally irresponsible, it fails to fulfill its cultural function.

Keywords: normativity, play normativity, moral normativity, act, homo ludens, free rider, spoil-sport

DOI: 10.21146/2074-4870-2018-18-2-129-137

Andrey A. Sychev. Play, Social Capital, Trust

The article discusses the role of play in the formation and accumulation of social capital understood as an aggregate of social norms, social networks and trustworthiness. It is shown that play is the primary space of accumulation of social capital. The child in play learns how to observe voluntarily regulations and create social norms. In addition, play, familiarizing relations and destroying hierarchical structures, contributes to the formation of horizontal networks supporting social capital. For this reason, play today is the main space for social capital building. Finally, play stimulates the development of various levels of trust: to co-players, opponents, people in general, player and the institution of play. The latter, in its turn, helps to enforce credence to other social institutions.

The author shows that the difference between types of trust depends on the conditions in which social capital is formed. The trust built in the situation of play differs from the trust built in other activities and in closed group. Play trust is the trust in its pure form, not mixed with cost-benefit considerations and external circumstances. It goes beyond the narrow-group (ethnic, confessional, gender, etc.) identity, helping to establish good relations between members of different social groups. In addition it allows playing numerous scenarios, including those that are unlikely to happen or even completely impossible in real life. It helps to highlight each player from all possible angles and to understand whether he or she is really trustworthy.

Keywords: play, social capital, social norms, rules, social networks, trust

DOI: 10.21146/2074-4870-2018-18-2-138-144


Natalia V. Zhadunova. Play as a Strategy of Formation of Personality in Glocal Space

Play with its impulsiveness, spontaneity, and unintentionality helps to understands the world in all the variety of its connections and to learn the norms that are important to live in society. It identifies key strategies for the formation of personality in modern society. The ontological conception of play, proposed by Eugen Fink, defines it as a direct projection of human life on infinite possible worlds with inexhaustible worldview reserves, and helps to understand play as an intermediary between objective social norms and their subjective individualized interpretations which are realized in concrete personal actions.

Play is a symbol of interpenetration and, at the same time, opposition of global and local both in the individual mind and in culture. It is a condition for the formation of the ability to “be open to the world”, to take into account “other people’s rules” and go beyond the value and ideological isolation, which is an essential element of glocalization. The ability to play is a way of reduction, formalization and fragmentation of social space, the reason for the internalization of moral norms and the possibility of their application to individual behavior. Play in the contemporary world becomes one of the strategies for overcoming crisis and conflict as ontological characteristics of modern human condition and establishing the necessary dynamic balance in the conditions of glocalization. In play a person can put himself on the place of others. Try to understand what they are guided by in their actions and how they assess the consequences of those actions.

Acting in play, following its rules or consciously breaking them helps a person to acquire new qualities and reject one-sidedness and narrowness of thinking: in play the world is becoming an “integrated place”. Ultimately, play creates the necessary conditions and opportunities for people to think in global categories and to live in a real world, which is measured in local scales.

Keywords: play, global, local, morality, values, strategies of personality formation, Eugen Fink

DOI: 10.21146/2074-4870-2018-18-2-145-154

Tatiana G. Leshkevitch. The meaning and Specificity of Game-based Cognition in Human Life

The article aims to consider specificity of game-based cognition and to reveal universal significance of the phenomenon in relation to conceptual ideas of J. Hazing, G. Gadamer, E. Fink, I. Hesse, and D. Elkonin. The game-based cognition reflects individual ethical attitudes and manifests itself as a tool for constructing an image of reality. The core point is that the game-based cognition is based on simulation and modeling of behavior events and patterns. The methodological strategy involves the dialectic method, the categories of content and form, the principle of constructivism. The article leads to the following conclusions. Firstly, the reconstruction of the content of game activity allows us to identify personal values in regard to meaning of life. Secondly, the assumption of the ambivalence of game activity is accompanied by the analysis of a number of oppositions. Thirdly, the attention is drawn to the ethical markers of game activity, which are concentrated around the requirement of “a fair play”. Fourthly, the group of functions of game activity which are directly connected with perception of individual life is designated. Among them, the compensatory function, the escape function, the adaptive function and self-realization appear to be the most significant ones. They demonstrate the relation between the living conditions, the perception of events and the needs of the person.

Keywords: game, sense, ambivalence of game activity, functions of game-based cognition, game dependence

DOI: 10.21146/2074-4870-2018-18-2-155-162