Institute of Philosophy
Russian Academy of Sciences

  Ethical Thought, 2019, vol. 19, no. 1.
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Ethical Thought, 2019, vol. 19, no. 1.




Konstantin E. Troitskiy. Zygmunt Bauman: from the Criticism of Universalism to the Unlimited Moral Responsibility.

Zygmunt Bauman is an iconic figure in sociology. But perhaps the most important part of Bauman’s work is his reflections on ethical issues and morality. Bauman’s main idea on morality is the impossibility to reduce the moral act to something beyond morality, including ethics, understood as the universal code of normative rules or the body of knowledge about morality. According to this approach, ethics is assessed as what limits unlimited and rationalizes the non-rationalized. Ethics is closely connected with society, whose institutions performs a similar with modern ethics function, but is directed not at theoretical knowledge, but at practical action. It does not mean that Bauman rejects ethics and society, on the contrary, he recognizes their crucial significance because they are capable, both to create the conditions for a moral act as well as to distort it. Bauman upholds the primacy of morality over gnoseology, society and ontology. His criticism of universalism is connected with the protection of the idea of the autonomy of morality in the modern society inclined to totalitarianism. At the same time, Bauman formulates the idea of the universal morality and defends it in the context of the liquid version of modernity. He urges not only the jettisoning of xenophobia and agree to live with the Other, but to build lives around responsibility for the Other or “Being for the Other”. Bauman’s reflections on the situation with migrants and refugees in today’s world and the call for the responsibility for them closely link Bauman’s thought with everyday life.

Keywords: Zygmunt Bauman, ethics, morality, universalism, universal morality, globalization, responsibility for the Other, refugees.

DOI: 10.21146/2074-4870-2019-19-1-5-19

Elena Namli. Cosmopolitanism, Sovereignty and Human Rights – In Defense of Critical Universalism.

What is a reasonable understanding of the relationship between human rights protection, on the one hand, and respect for people’s sovereignty, on the other? In order to address this question this article utilizes the distinction between political cosmopolitanism on the one side, and moral cosmopolitanism on the other. Political cosmopolitanism implies that some form of global citizenship is needed for universal protection of human rights. Critics of this position stress the importance of self-governance and state sovereignty. In this article, it is claimed that rejection of political cosmopolitanism can be combined with embracement of moral cosmopolitanism, i.e. embracement a global moral community where respect for human dignity and therefore recognition of human rights of each individual is not limited by national citizenship and borders. In this article, I defend a non-violent form of moral cosmopolitanism. Such a cosmopolitanism demands a modification of universalism of human rights. I distinguish between descriptive and epistemological universalism on the one hand and pure normative universalism on the other. Descriptive and epistemological universalism, I demonstrate, are aggressive forms of universalism that tend to legitimize domination. Critical universalism, which is a form of pure normative universalism, is justified in that it inspires political liberation within different traditions without legitimizing cultural monopolism and violence of the Global North.

Keywords: cosmopolitanism, normative universalism, critical universalism, human rights and sovereignty.

DOI: 10.21146/2074-4870-2019-19-1-20-35


Greg B. Yudin. A Communitarian Approach for Bioethics.

This paper justifies a communitarian approach to the issues of dissemination of biotechnologies and human enhancement. Communitarianism is compared against the Kantian paradigm in bioethics. Contrary to utilitarianism, Kantianism transcends strictly individualistic perspective by treating use of biotechnologies as social interaction and underlining the primacy of autonomous decision and human dignity. However, Kantianism fails to discriminate between real autonomy and formal autonomy of human decisions that are prefigured by biotechnological environment that stimulates the use of technologies. Treating man as an end easily slips into treating it as a target and object of technological perfection. For communitarianism, human auto­nomy is a collectively enacted capacity, and therefore it argues that biotechnologies should be evaluated by their impact on integrity of human communities affected by them. This paper argues that communitarian approach calls for a democratic response to bioethical challenges.

Keywords: bioethics, biotechnologies; human enhancement; communitarianism; Kantianism.

DOI: 10.21146/2074-4870-2019-19-1-36-48


Olga P. Zubets. On the Ethical Meaning of ἀρχή.

The concept of ἀρχή is usually seen within ontological and epistemological context which prevents it from getting a theoretical conceptual status in ethics, particularly while reading Aristotle’s ethical works. But it is the very notion that should be considered the most fundamental for the originating ethics: it forms the concept of an action and a special philosophical visual direction on the world. The article is not aimed at any exact historico-philosophical reconstruction of the term, but at consideration of ἀρχή as a fundamental ethical concept. It was formed by the search of yourself, of the possibility to act in one’s own name, which is breaking the chain of causes and effects and cogitating the world from within it as totality, completeness and the One. Aristotle defines an act as done by the man who deliberately chooses, and choses it for its own sake, so that the ἀρχή of action is carried back to himself to the extent that and an acting man could be defined only as the ἀρχή of his action. The immanent character of the end and being in acting as its ἀρχή creates the space of morality out of any cause-effect relations and logic. A man being the ἀρχή of his act is in the dominating, ruling and responsible relation to the world in its totality and entirety. This is one of the first essential discoveries of ethics, given by philosophical vision from within the action.

Keywords: ἀρχή, ethics, philosophy, action, man, Aristotle, “Nicomachean Ethics”, cause, end, totality of the world.


DOI: 10.21146/2074-4870-2019-19-1-49-62


Margarita A. Korzo. Probabilism and the Problem of “Uncertain” Conscience in the Early Modern Times: Historical and Theoretical Contexts.

The phenomenon of “uncertain” and “scrupulous” conscience, that is, conscience, which is difficult to make a decision in a situation of doubt, and therefore is subject to both rational and irrational fears, has drawn attention at the turn of the Early Modern Times as a consequence of changes in the practice of the penance, different social, religious, and theoretical factors. Proposed by I. Nieder, J. Gerson and Antonin of Florence practical procedures for overcoming the situation of moral uncertainty testified to the gradual break with the medieval tradition of tutiorism, which states that in all cases of uncertainty the safer side is to be preferred, and later developed in the ideas of probabilism. Its origin was influenced by the blossoming of Neopirronism and the evolution of the Aristotelian concept of “probability” in the direction of Cicero’s more reasons-based notion, but also by the Reformation and confessional fragmentation of Europe, the discovery of the New World, the development of science. The Jesuits moved to the position of probabilism in the 1580s, taking from the rhetorical heritage of Cicero the principle of adaptation, but also in connection with the consistency of probabilism to one of the main principles of the spirituality of the Jesuits – the ability to make the right choice of means to achieve the highest goal depending on the current situation. The probabilistic reasoning assimilated by the Jesuits was spread both through their system of education and manuals for confessors, in which the post tridentine legal image of confession as a kind of judicial process was significantly “softened”. The benign way of guiding consciences was one of the reasons for the attacks by the Jansenists who criticized the laxism, which developed from probabilism, bringing the latter to the point of absurdity.

Keywords: uncertain conscience, scrupulosity, doubt, moral decision-making, tutiorism, probabilism, moral theology in the Early Modern Times, sacrament of penance.

DOI: 10.21146/2074-4870-2019-19-1-63-75


Tatiana V. Artemyeva. Emblematic Forms of Moral Concepts in the Epoch of Enlightenment in Russia.

The article is devoted to Russian moral philosophy in the Enlightenment. The author notes the complex structure of Russian society and, as a consequence, co-existence of several philosophical and ethical models. There were three intellectual networks in relation to three important elite institutions: academics, the Orthodox Church, and the nobility. Inside the academic milieu, ethics was studied in the metaphysical context as the problem of the immortality of the soul, the pre-established harmony, theodicy, etc. The problems of “practical philosophy”, for example, moral aspects of law, were also studied at academic institutions. The Orthodox Church and noble societies often used metaphorical forms of abstract ideas and their visual forms for illustrations. Moral theory was represented by oppositions of virtues and vices as well as accentuations of civic virtues. Emblems were used as visual codes to represent philosophical and moral concepts with their conventional content. The author analyzes ways of virtues and vices visualization using examples from emblem books, Orthodox editions, and civil ceremonies which demonstrated samples approved by the ruling elite. Elisabeth Petrovna’s and Catherine II’s coronations are carefully studied. Many sources are used for the first time in the context of history of philosophy and the moral thought. It is concluded that the visual communication was an important way to create “texts of culture” with emblems as their semantical units.

Keywords: Russia, the Age of Enlightenment, moral concepts, emblem, virtues, vices.

DOI: 10.21146/2074-4870-2019-19-1-76-88




Anatoliy P. Skripnik. Resentment and Intolerance.

The article demonstrates the transformation of resentment as one of the basic moral feelings in the vice of intolerance, which is the greatest danger to the modern world. Its particular acuteness is due to the growth of national movements and nationalism. To counter into­lerance, it is important to identify its mental and social roots. The normative treatment of the emotion of anger through the concepts of justice and respect for man transforms it into a sense of resentment. The transfer of resentment from the act on the actor becomes stable and breeds hatred. The hatred is the emotional core of intolerance. The social roots of intolerance are revealed through criticism of the concept of “ressentiment” of Nietzsche. The lack of this concept is seen in the fact that it reproduces only one side in the genesis of intolerance, namely envious-hostile attitude of slaves to the masters. The social base of intolerance, as shown in the article, is more extensive and deeper. It consists not only in the antagonism of the aristocracy and the lower classes, but also in n the intergroup enmity, in the perception of another as hostile. The author tries to reveal the mechanisms of transformation of resentment into intolerance: substitution of guilt by otherness, transfer of negative attitude from a particular person to his environment, pathological narrowing of consciousness, etc. The fight against intolerance involves cultivating the respect for the human person in general and for the variety of manifestations of humanity; localization of resentment, namely, the separation of the act from the agent and from his neighbors; countering the spread of fabrications that discredit another’s culture and way of life; maximum criticality to the claims of national exclusivity. As the main preventive measure, it is recommended to harmonize the modules of morality, i.e., the coordination of indignation with guilt, love and dignity of a person.

Keywords: resentment, intolerance, anger, hatred, ressentiment, violence, guilt.


DOI: 10.21146/2074-4870-2019-19-1-89-103


Olga V. Savvina. Discourse on Moral Permissibility and Regulation of Medical Biotechnology (Example of In Vitro Fertilization and Assisted Reproductive Technologies).

The article analyses the history of the discourse on ethical issues of in vitro fertilization (IVF) and related assisted reproductive technologies (ART). These biotechnologies have gone from experimental medicine to routine medical practice, and it is possible to trace the discourse from moral permissibility of the biotechnologies in its very beginning to negative consequences of IVF and other related ART. The author considers concerns expressed by philosophers, scientists and representatives of different social groups about the practice of the biotechnologies. The study also analyses arguments of bioethics and religious ethics (Christianity and Islam). The author comes to decision, that practice of IVF and associated with it ART is morally permissible in if it has therapeutic effect and / or does not lead to violation of human rights, is not used in order to create superhuman or, on the contrary, biorobots. The notion of common good, matters of state or humankind are rare expressed in the context of the discourse. One of the recommendations of World medical association, expressing the value of common good and sacrificing individual interests is the prohibition on the choice of sex of a baby due to ART if it is not a case of sex-linked deceases. Religious ethics puts on serious limitations on the usage of IVF and related ART, because it is often lead to the violation of the religious norms, regulating family relations and it is considered as a sin.

Keywords: bioethics, in vitro fertilization, assisted reproductive technologies, discourse, moral status of embryo, human rights.

DOI: 10.21146/2074-4870-2019-19-1-104-117




Andrey G. Myasnikov. And yet, Was Kant an Atheist?

The text is devoted to the critical analysis of A. Sudakov’s paper «Kant on his way towards a demonstration of God’s existence, or: one unfortunate postulate». It presents the historical and philosophical arguments that reveal the practical significance of Kantian postulate of God’s existence and demonstrates the lack of substantiation in criticism of this postulate by A. Sudakov: it indicates the absence in Kant’s practical philosophy of the so-called «mononuclear» concept of the highest good; the so-called «ethical incoherences» which A. Sudakov discovers in Kantian ethico-theological evidence are subjected to the critical examination. Special attention is paid to the Kantian distinction between the ideal of blessedness and private human blessedness/happiness, while A. Sudakov confused them in his analysis of Kantian argumentation. The paper states that A. Sudakov does not quite correctly reproach Kant for the failure in his ethico-theological argumentation, hinting at the doubtfulness of his claims to the practical knowledge of the supersensual world. Sudakov’s attempt to oppose Kant’s moral teaching to Christian moral teachings, as well as Kant's position in Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals and in the later Critique of practical reason is questioned. In the course of historical and philosophical research the closeness of Kantian moral position to the teaching of Jesus Christ, as well as its consistency throughout the «critical period» of the German thinker's work is established.

Keywords: Kant, the existence of God, ethical-theological proof, practical philosophy, the highest good.

DOI: 10.21146/2074-4870-2019-19-1-118-126


Andrey K. Sudakov. Unfulfilled Debate on Ethicotheology A Replay to Andrey Myasnikov.

This paper, conceived in the genre of an anti-critique, tries to evaluate the solidity of A.G.Myasnikov’s critical remarks concerning my suggestion of contradictions in the structure of Kant’s philosophical proof for his «postulate of God’s existence», in connection with the philosopher’s doctrine of virtue and happiness/beatitude. In this regard, by dwelling on the nature of the highest derived good in the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, as well as on the essence of Kantian ethical universalization, the article points out, that the Kantian debate did not take place, as long as the opponent's reasons do not touch the topic really problematized in the paper which he has been criticizing. A review of objections in concern with the «ethical incoherences» in the argumentative structure of the moral argument leads to the very same conclusion: My opponent's criticism does not intend to analyze my essay in reconstructing Kant’s philosophical justification of the «postulate of God», but merely to protest against my remarks concerning this justification, and therefore my opponent conceives the said remarks as a partial search for «incoherences» – in Kant’s ethical doctrine in general, but not in his ethicotheology in particular. Protestations against reflections which are motivated by Kant's ethicotheology refuse to enter the field of ethicotheo­logy proper, because my opponent regards any theology as extra-scientific. In conclusion the paper articulates a well-argued objection to my opponent’s opinion, according to which Jesus Christ of the Gospels promises to his disciples, and grants to the people whose affections He heals, happiness/beatitude in this world. If the highest good of the evangelical ethics can be proved to be «mononuclear», then the point of interrelation between Kantian and Christian morals appears in quite a different lighting.

Keywords: Kant, God, happiness/beatitude, virtue, highest derived good, complete good, ethico-theology; Christian ethical attitude.

DOI: 10.21146/2074-4870-2019-19-1-127-140


Nikolai S. Rozov. Anthroprostasia (Protection of a Human Being) is an Ethical Core of Humanism.

The concept anthroprostasia (protection of a person) is based on the idea of generally significant (universally valid) values as requirements not to violate the objective conditions for the ability of individuals to live a full-fledged life, to follow their interests and values. The concept of a full-fledged life includes health, freedom, dignity, and meaningfulness. Rules based on universally valid values are rigoristic, but not absolute: their violations against some people can be justified if it is necessary to protect the same values for other people. The issue of the admissibility of violence, including war killings, was considered in detail. The principle of protection of a person does not refer to the “higher”, but only to the minimal, primary values relating to the rules and orders of social interaction. The illegality of absolutization and attempts to impose any “higher values”, even such well-meaning ones as “human life”, “universal love”, “universal brotherhood”, etc., is shown.

Keywords: anthroprostasia, human protection, humanism, generally significant values, higher values, life as a value, moral norms, inalienable human rights, freedom, dignity, full-fledged life.

DOI: 10.21146/2074-4870-2019-19-1-141-156


Ruben G. Apressyan. Protection of a Human Being as a Moral Principle (Regarding the Article by N. Rozov).

Welcoming the idea of human protection proposed by N.S. Rozov as “the ethical core of humanism”, the author expresses doubts concerning a strategy chosen by Rozov for presenting anthroprostasy – a principle of protection of the human being. On the one hand, anthroprostasy has been reduced to not causing harm principle, specifically in its weak form of compliance with the conditions that ensure the people’s good, and, on the other hand, to the efficacy of the political and legal order. Thus, the specific value-imperative content of anthroprostasy has been obscured. In a polemic with Rozov, the author argues that in order to reveal the actual normative-ethical content of the principle of anthroprostasy it is necessary to show its place among other moral principles (in the simplest version – justice and charity) and its role in relations of I – the Other – the Third.

Keywords: normative ethics, protection, not causing harm, care.

DOI: 10.21146/2074-4870-2019-19-1-157-162