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Ruben O.

Balotol Jr

Ethical Theories
Thomas Aquinass Natural Law Tradition
Thomas Aquinas natural has two key features: one, when we focus on Gods roles as the
giver of the natural law, natural law is just one aspect of divine providence. Second, when we
focus on the humans role as recipient of the natural law, the natural law constitutes the
principles by which human action is to be judged as reasonable and unreasonable.
1. Natural Law and Providence
According to Aquinas law, is a rule or measure of human acts, whereby a person is
induced to act or is restrained from acting. The law is an aspect and originated from divine
providence. Natural law is the way of how humans participate in the eternal law. Therefore,
natural law is provided by a caring God since human beings are created rationally and can act
freely, it is morally appropriate that individual should behave in a way that it conform to its
natural state.
1.2 Natural Law and Practical Rationality
Aquinass theory on natural constitutes basic principle of practical rationality for human
beings, and has this status by nature, which implies that the precepts of the natural law are: (a)
universally bridging by naturemeans that no beings could shove our human nature yet fail to
be bound by the precepts of the natural law, because it directs individual towards the good and
particular goods and; (b) are universally knowable by naturemeans that the precepts of natural
law are knowable by nature. Every individual possess a basic knowledge of the principles of
natural law.

Aquinas view is paradigmatic of the natural law position, and such features, it would
assume that natural law theory is incompatible with several views in metaphysics and moral
philosophy such as: atheism, deism and nihilism about values, relativism and conventionalism.
1.3 Substance of the Natural Law View
Aquinas holds that the fundamental principle of the natural law is that good is to be done
and evil be avoided, thus provides that a principle of intelligibility of action: only action that can
be understood as conforming with this principle can be understood as intelligible action.
Aquinas hold that it is the good that is fundamental; whatever an action is right is
logically posterior to whether that action brings about or is some good. The good is prior to the
right. But on Aquinass view we are, somehow able to reason these goods are to be pursued.
However, there are certain ways of action in response to the basic good that are intrinsically
flawed; therefore an action is good if it is intrinsically not flawed.
It is necessary to identify, the intrinsic intention and how to determine a flawed one.
According to Aquinas, an act might be flawed through its intention: to direct oneself against a
goodmurder, and lying and blasphemyis always to action an unfitting way. Through
mismatch of object and endthat is, between the immediate aim of the action and its more
distant point. Also to consider features that individuate acts, such their objects, their ends, their
circumstances and so forth.
1.4 Paradigmatic and Non-paradigmatic Natural Law Theories
Aquinas was not the only historically important paradigmatic natural law theorist,
Thomas Hobbes and a number of contemporary writers affirm their paradigmatic view as
influenced by Aquinas. In summary, paradigmatic natural law theorists holds the following: (1)
the natural law law is given by God; (2) it is naturally authoritative over all; (3) it is naturally

knowable by all human beings, further it holds that, (4) good is prior to the right, that (5) right
action is action that responds non defectively to the good, that (6) there are a variety of ways in
which action can be defective with respect to the good and that(7) some of these ways can be
captured and formulated as several rules.
2. Theoretical Options for Natural law theorists
There are a number of variations possible view despite of the constraints set by the theses
that constitute the paradigmatic natural law position.
2.1 Natural Goodness
It is the essential to the natural law position that there be some things that are universally
and naturally good. But given the variability of human tastes and desires, how is universal
goodness possible? and how could there be such universal good?
To answer the question, the natural theorists have atleast three answers available, that of
Hobbesian, Aristotelian and Platonic.
According to Hobbesian principle in response to the question which proceeds on the basis
of a subjective theory of the good, which according to the theory, what makes it true that
something is good is that it is desired, or in some way is the objects of ones pro attitudes, or
would be the object of ones pro attitude in some suitable conditions. Thus, Hobbes is able to
build his natural law theory around the good of self-preservation, which is important to human
Aristotelian principle, holds that, what makes it true that something is good is not that it
stands in some relation to desire but rather it is somehow perfective or completing of a being,
where what is perfective or completing of a being depends on that beings nature.

The Platonic principle, similar to Aristotelian perspective, it also rejects the subjectivist
view about the good. But it does not hold that the good is to be understood in terms of human
nature. The role of human nature is not to define or set the good, but merely to define what the
possibilities of human achievement are.
2.2 Knowledge of the basic good
How can we come to know these fundamental goods? Aquinass account of our
knowledge of the fundamental goods could be labeled as: (a) Derivationismthe idea that we
can derive from a metaphysical study of human nature and its potentialities and actualizations,
the conclusion that certain things are good for human beings, and that the primary principle of
the natural law bid us to pursue these things and; (b) Inclinationismit holds that, ones explicit
grasp of the fundamental goods follows upon but not derived from ones persistent directedness
toward the pursuit of certain ends, which directedness involves an implicit grasp of these items
as good. So human beings exhibit a tendency to pursue life, knowledge, friendship and so forth;
and reflection on this tendency occasions an immediate grasp of the truth that life, and
knowledge, and friendship, and so forth are goods.
2.3 The Catalog of Basic Goods
Suppose that we follow at least the inclinationist line, what are the goods, the affirmation of
which intelligible these inclinations? It is clear, however, from this way of putting the question
that even if natural law theorists are right that this implicit knowledge is widely distributed, it
would be easy for natural law theorists to disagree in their catalogs of basic goods. Natural law
theorists provided different list of goods, there also more focused debates about the inclusion of
particular goods within the natural law theorists lists.

2.4 From the Good to the Right

For we are frequently in situations in which there are various different course of action that
we might pursue, each of which promises to realize some good; are there no guidelines to
which we might appeal in order to show somehow of these choices superior to others? As we
have seen, the paradigmatic natural law view holds that there are some general rules of right
that govern our pursuit of the various goods, and that these rules of right exclude those
actions that are in some way defective responses to the various basic goods.
How are we to determine what counts as a defective response to the goods? There are at
least possibilities: (1) One might appeal to a master rule of right that be used to generate
further rules. Master rule method, it is where the task of natural law theorist to identify some
master rule which bears on the basic goods and perhaps in conjunction with further factual
premises, is able to produce a stock of general rules about what sorts of responses to the
basic; (2) one might appeal to a methodological principle by which particular rules can be
generated and; (3) one might appeal to some standard for distinguishing correct and incorrect
moral rules that is not understandable as a method, virtue approach.

W.D. Rosss Prima Facie Duty

William David Ross was a British philosopher, college administrator, WW I veteran, civil
servant, and humanities scholar best known for his important contributions to moral philosophy
and the study of classical literature.
Rosss system of ethics, originally set forth in his classic work, The Right and the Good
(1930) and then revised and supplemented by a later, more methodical, more analytical

presentation, Foundations of Ethics (1939), combines elements and insights from several earlier
moral theories and philosophical traditions.
His ethical theory, commonly known as, prima facie duties, features three key elements:
(a) ethical non-naturalism, (b) ethical intuitionism and, (c) ethical pluralism.

Ethical Non-Naturalism

According to W.D. Ross, it refers not only about the uniqueness and irreducibility of
goodness and other moral properties but includes two other meta-ethical claims. These are: (1)
moral statements are propositions and are either true or false independently of human opinion or
belief and, (2) moral propositions are true when they accurately describe or correspond to an
actual state of affairs and are false when they do not.
In short, Ross emphasized that whenever we make judgment such as capital punishment is
wrong or same sex marriage is bad, we are stating propositions that are either true or false. They
are true if they do not. Furthermore, since these statements purport to describe objective reality,
they are essentially different from and cannot be reduced to statements that merely express
personal emotions or describe states of mind.

Ethical Intuitionism

Intuitionism is the epistemological view that some moral truths can be known without logical
inference or systematic thought; such truths, it is argued, can be known directly either through a
moral sense (empirical view) or by means of non-empirical a priori knowledge (rationalist view).
Ross means by intuition as simply the means by which we apprehend and know moral truths.
It may begin as little more than an initial impression or a more or less instinctive reaction which
may then be strengthened and approved by further consideration and reflection.


Deontological Pluralism and Prima Facie Duties

W.D. Rosss ethical system is deontological it is based on the adherence of rules or duties
rather than outcomes. It is pluralist because Ross recognizes several fundamental rules or
principles that he terms, prima facie duties.
He defines prima facie duties as a brief way of referring to the characteristics which an act
has, in virtue of being of a certain kind, of being an act which would be a duty proper it were not
at the same time another kind which is morally significant.
Rosss enumerated seven Prima Facie Duties: (1) fidelitywe should strive to keep promises
and be honest and truthful; (2) reparationwe should make amends when we have wronged
someone; (3) gratitudethese are duties to repay or redo favors or simply than others for the
kindness towards us; (4) duties of justice and fairnessit involves distributing goods and
services in fair and equal manner whenever possible; (5) duties of beneficencewe should be
kind to others and try to improve their health, wisdom, security, happiness and well-being; (6)
duties of self-improvementthese are duties involving making the best of ourselves and making
our lives the best they could be and; (7) duties of malfeasancewe should refrain from harming
others either physically or psychologically. However, the important thing here is not so much that
exact number of duties that we recognize or the precise terminology that we use to identify or
describe them, but to agree that the duties enumerated and described are all valid and certified.

Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679)

Thomas Hobbes was born in Westport, England in 1588. He received his college
education at Oxford University in England, where he studied classics. Hobbes traveled to other
European countries several times to meet with scientists and to study different forms of

government. During his time outside of England, Hobbes became interested in why people
allowed themselves to be ruled and what would be the best form of government for England. In
1651, Hobbes wrote his most famous work, entitled Leviathan. In it, he argued that people were
naturally wicked and could not be trusted to govern. Therefore, Hobbes believed that an absolute
monarchy - a government that gave all power to a king or queen - was best.
Moral and Political Philosophy
Hobbess theory approaches the subject not from a historical point of view but from the
vantage point of logic and analysis. He does not ask, when did civil societies emerge? but rather,
how did you explain the emergence of society? he hopes to discover the cause of civil society,
and, in harmony with his general method, he sets out to explain the cause of the state by
describing the motion of bodies.
Hobbes theory of the state presupposes the equality of all men. Equality means simply
that people are capable of hurting their neighbors and taking what they judge they need for their
own protection. He believes that all men aspire toward the same goal and that when they fail to
achieve it, enmity and hate spring up. The driving force in a person is the will to survive, and the
psychological attitude pervading all people is fearthe fear of death. In the state of nature all
people are relentlessly pursuing whatever acts they think will secure their safety. Why do people
behave this way? Hobbes analyzes and identified three motives of discord among human being
are; competitionprovokes aggression with gain as an object; mistrustwhich makes men
attacks each other in order to achieve security; and vanitywhich creates enmity between rivals
for fame.
Commonwealth. The only way to set up a common power is for men to confer all their
power and strength to one man, or one assembly of men, that may reduce all their wills, by
plurality of voices, unto one will. Each man must say to every other man I give up my right of

governing myself, to this man, or to this assembly of men, on this condition, that thou give up
thy right to him and authorize all his actions in like manner. The central authority then
personifies the entire multitude, and the multitude united in a single person is called a
Commonwealth. This is the generation of that great Leviathan, or to speak more reverently, of
that mortal god, to which we owe under the immortal God our peace and defence. The covenant
made by the members of the commonwealth sets up a sovereign, and makes all the covenanting
members his subjects.
Social Contract. The contract by which we avoid the state of nature and enter civil
society is an agreement between individuals, as if every man should say to every man, I
authorize and give up my right of governing myself, to this man, or to this assembly of men, on
this condition, that you give up your right to him, and authorize all his actions in like manner.
Two things stand out clearly in this contract. First, the parties to the contract are individuals who
promise each other to hand over their right to govern themselves to the sovereign; it is not a
contract between the sovereign and the citizens. The sovereign has absolute power to govern and
is no way subject to the citizens. Second, Hobbes clearly states that the sovereign can be either
this man or this assembly of men, suggesting that, in theory at least, his view of sovereignty was
not identified with any particular form of government. Hobbes saw the transfer of the right to
rule from the people to the sovereign as both absolute and irrevocable.

Paul Ricoeur
The Problem of the Foundation of Moral Philosophy
The central purpose of the essay is to seek a more primitive and more radical foundation
for moral philosophy than law, whether this term be understood in a formal, material, or natural
sense, and to show that this concept of law is inserted into this more radical foundation.
The following discussion are divided into three parts. One, what seems to constitute the
ethical intention, far from law being the first category of ethics, to show that we can and must
first constitute a conceptual framework which does not include the motion of law. Secondly, to
establish the specific function of the idea of law even though it is secondary with respect to the
foundation level and consider the problematic notion of natural law. Finally, it inquire as to the
evangelical aim of ethics not as moral theologian but as a philosopher looking for the possible
point of insertion of such an aim into the conceptual network we will have established in the first
and second parts.
Ethical Intention
A. Freedom, the source of ethics
The first point of departure for an ethic, which seems at first sight to be the opposite of the
idea of law, can only be found in the motion of freedom. But if freedom posits itself, it does not
possess itself. This is why we must have recourse to a whole network of notions by means of
which reflection on freedom and the taking possession of freedom become possible.
Therefore, I can only begin from the belief that I can, and that I am what I can do, that I
can do what I am. It is this initial correlation of belief and (an act which is the light of an act), it
seems to me, that is the sole possible point of departure for an ethic.

The whole problem of ethics is born from the question, what does it mean for someone to
attest to his freedom? it means to devote oneself to doing and not to seeing. Therefore, it is the
whole problem of an appropriation by means of the work.
Second, it is necessary to put aside the moment of law and stick with something more
primitive which is just the requirement for actualization or realization, which makes freedom a
task for itself. What is absolute primary is the desire to be in a desire to do somethings which
would be the expression, mark, and signature, of this being-able-to-do-something.
B. Freedom in the Second Person
We truly enter into a problem of morality when we posit freedom in the second person, as the
willing of the others freedom, the willing that your freedom might exist. Then and only are we
on the trail of a real obligation, and, as we will see later a law. But it was necessary to begin with
the self affirmation of freedom and the requirement for one to give oneself a real history in real
works, for freedom in the second person is truly the analogon of this primary freedom. if I did
not understand what it means for me to be free, and to have to really become free, I could not
will it for others. In moments when belief collapses, I doubt that I am free, if I experience myself
as crushed by determinisms of every sort, then I can no longer believe in the freedom of the other
person and I can no longer help him to be free.
C. The Mediation of Institutions
How does it come about that in the cross-crossings of intentions of wanting something to be,
of affirmative positings, that there is something neutral. This is truly the cross of moral
philosophy. For this objectiveness. at the origin of what is named in terms of values, and laws,
presents itself with features that are completely paradoxical since we may not accord to it either

the consistency of an essence or the inconsistency of a subjective, instantaneous, event-like and

datable creation.
Since no one has been able to demonstrate either that someone ever invented a value, in the
way that one creates a work of art through the free play of the imagination and understanding.
The only way that seems yet to be explored, other than essentialism or a creationism of values,
would be to understand the mediating role of this neutral term along the trajectory of the
realization of freedom in intersubjectivity.
Institution, to the neutral term, the mediation between two freedoms. Ricoeur introduced the
word institution because it responds to a double criterion; on the one hand, every institution leads
back to a primordial mythical founding; while, on the other hand, institutions found freedoms.
There is an instituted-instituting which is the ethical mediation and in terms of which notions
such as the imperative or the law may be introduced.

The Position of the Law

The following are the discussion on the notions of value, norm, imperative, law and natural
law, taken as synonymously. (a) Ricoeur discusses values with the following points: first, must
certainly, an act of evaluation which proceeds from the will to actualize my own freedom. This
positing element of valuation proceeds, of course, from a subjective pole, but it is joined to the
will toward incarnation in an external work, which means that we pass from evaluating to value,
from the verb to the substantive form. Next in the idea of value we find the leap to the second
person, for the second person, you, is what is supremely valuable for me. Finally, we rediscover
in this notion of value the neuter term which we cannot derive either from subjective evaluation
or intersubjective recognition and which presents itself as mediating between them.

While value only implied something preferable, something worthwhile, (b) the idea of a
norm, introduces an element of scission as soon as the preferable is opposed to the desirable,
what is worthwhile to what I desire. Then the preferable begins to fall on me as a rule or
discipline. Value is experienced as a norm by the being, which is split or divided between
something preferable which is already objectified and a desire which closes over his subjectivity.
Then the you should begins to triumph over me as something alien to me, something other
than me. the origin of freedom in the first and second person is forgotten. The severity of
morality and the bleakness of moralism begins. And this movement is unavoidable in the sense
that this regimen of scission is undoubtedly a destiny wherein a moral theology would see a sort
of original fault that means that man is always separated from his deepest value and that the
mediation through institutions and values can only appear as a mediation through prohibitions.
The very form of (c) imperative introduces the element of command: Do this, it always
refer to a single action presented in the form of a command. Now it seems to me that this
imperative form was already implicit norms in the idea of a scission. Indeed as soon as I appear
to myself as a twofold being, there is something like one part of me which commands the other
part. I am relating to myself in a relation of commanding and obeying.
The idea of (d) law as the terminal moment of a constitution of meaning that presupposes all
the other concepts. Far from being the first term, therefore, the concept of law is on the contrary
the last term of the proposed development. What does it add to the notion of value, norm, and
imperative? Essentially, law, is a requirement for universality, a potential universalization. Here
is where an analogy to a law of nature is justified. By this we mean to say that we cannot remain
divided in ourselves, we cannot have concepts of action simply juxtaposed to concepts implied
by the knowledge of nature.


The Evangelical Perspective in the Ethical Order

It is the whole morality of the love of neighbor, an expression that signifies that the
fundamental motivation of ethics is to make your freedom advance as mine does. The ethical
process is uncreasingly reborn from its origin in the mutuality of freedom. Ricoeur further give
emphasis on the insertion of the evangelical perspective into the ethical order. The following are:
(1) the return to the ethical intentionwe need to rediscover that the first function of the gospel
is to lead us back to the origin of the whole ethical process, prior to the moment when it
objectifies itself and crystalizes itself into the law; (2) paradoxical ethicthe use of paradox as
the language of ethical imagination, which are present in the parables, proverbs, and the
eschatological discourses and; (4) the dialectic of two ethical levels must we not say, if what I
have just said is the case, that we ought not to want to unify ethics, that its domain must remain
broken between a morality of conviction which is a morality of the absolutely desirable, and a
morality of responsibility which is the morality of the relatively possible and also of the limited
use of violence? Perhaps, therefore, we should not try to unify ethics, but leave it open in that
open dialectical situation concerning which makes ethics a wounded undertaking.

Oneself As Another
In Oneself as Another, Ricoeur proposes three these with respect to ethics and morality:
(1) the primacy of ethics over morality; (2) the necessity that the ethical aim be mediated by the
moral norm and; (3) morality must seek recourse in ethics to resolve conflicts and aporias.
Ethics encompasses morality but while it is subordinate to ethics, morality is a necessary,
deontological moment of the actualization of ethics. The final recourse to ethics (informed by
morality) is a form of practical wisdom geared toward the appropriate application of universal

norms in particular situations. The reason why ethics needs morality is to ensure that ethical life
respects the autonomy and dignity of every people.
7th Study: The Self and the Ethical Aim
The present study will be confined to establishing the primacy of ethics over moralitythat is, of
the aim over the norm. It will be the task of the following study to grant their rightful place to
moral norms, without letting them have the final word.
A. Aiming at the Good Life
Ricoeur define ethical intention as aiming at the good life with and for others, in just
institutions, which will serve as points of reflection on the relation between the moral and the
ethical aim. He pointed out that the major advantage of entering into the ethical problematic by
way of the notion of the good life is that it does not refer directly to selfhood in the figure of
The first component of the ethical aim is what Aristotle called living well or the good
lifethe good life is the very object of the ethical aim. Whatever the image that each of us has
of a full life, this apex is the ultimate end our action. The first great lesson we receive from
Aristotle is (a) to seek the fundamental basis for the aim of the good in praxis and (b) to set up
the teleology internal to praxis as the structuring principle for the aim of the good life.
Ricoeur pointed out that Aristotles perspective and its puzzling view led to Aristotles
failure to consider that a person may be placed in the situation of choosing whatever to become a
doctor rather than an orator or a politician? Is not the choice among several courses of action a
choice about ends, that is, about whether they conform more or less closely to an ideal in life.
But Ricoeur regarded Aristotle point forces to admit that the end-means model does not cover the
entire field of action but only that of tekhe, to the extent that is not the object of any

fundamental reflection until the appearance of phronesis in book 6. The end-means model invites
to construct all the relations between subordinate ends and an ultimate end on the basis of a
relation which remains essentially instrumental.
B. With and for Others
The second stage of mediation arises from the question, how does the second component
of the ethical aim, which is designated as solicitude, link upon with the first one? The question
takes on a paradoxical twist calling for discussion when the reflexive aspect of this aim is
characterized by self-esteem. Reflexitivity according to Ricoeur poses a danger of turning in
upon oneself, of closing up, and moving in the opposite direction from openness, from the
horizon of the good life. He further explains saying that despite the danger, solicitude is not
something added on to self-esteem from outside but that it unfolds the dialogic dimension of
self-esteem which Ricoeur observes that: (1) it is only by chance that we have continually been
speaking of self-esteem of the self and not esteem of myself. To say self is not say myself. To
be sure, mineness is implied in a certain manner in selfhood, but the passage from selfhood to
mineness is marked by the clause in each case which Heidegger is careful to add to the
positing of mineness. He further observes that, (2) if one asks by what right be self is declared to
be worthy of esteem, it must be answered that it is not principally by reason of its
accomplishments but fundamentally by reason of its capacities.
C. In Just Institutions
The fact that the aim of living well in a way encompasses the sense of justice is implied
in the very notion of the other. The other is also other than the you. Correlatively, justice
extends further than face-to-face encounters. Ricoeur asserts that, (a) living well is not limited to
interpersonal relations but to the life of institutions and justice presents ethical features that are

not contained in solicitude, essentially a requirement of equality. Therefore, the following

discussion is an investigation, as the point of application of justice and equality as the ethical
content of the sense of justice which out of the inquiry will result a new determination of the self,
that each: to each, his or her right.
He emphasized that institution is to be understood as the structure of living together as
this belongs to a historical communitypeople, nation, region and so fortha structure
irreducible to interpersonal relations and yet bound up with these in a remarkable sense which
the notion of distribution will permit further clarification. What fundamentally characterizes the
idea of institution is the bond of common mores and not that of constraining rules. The felicitous
manner of emphasizing the ethical primacy of living together over constraints related to judicial
systems and to political organization, is to mark, following Hanna Arendt, the gap separating
power to common and domination.
8th Study: The Self and the Moral Norm
The 8th study deals on the task of justifying the second proposition namely that is
necessary to subject the ethical aim to the test of the norm, it will then remain to slow in what
way the conflicts provoked by formalism, itself closely tied to the deontological moment, lead us
back from morality to ethics, but to an ethics enriched by the passage through the norm and
exercising moral judgment in a given situation. The 8 th study focuses on the tie between
obligation and formalism, not in order to denounce hastily the weakness of the morality of duty
but in order to express its grandeur.
Ricoeur set the discussion, The Self and the Moral Norm, into three stages, first, the
aim of the good life will be subjected to the test of the norm without any consideration of the
dialogic structure of the norm itself. This structure will be at the center of the second state,

echoing solicitude, which denoted the primordial relation of the self to the selfs other on the
ethical level. The third stage, continues to investigate into the sense of justice, at the moment
when the latter becomes the rule of justice, under the aegis of moral formalism extended from
interpersonal relations to social relations and to the institutions that underlies them. it results
from this fact that self-respect, which on the moral plane answers the self-esteem on the ethical
plane, will reach its full meaning only at the end of the third stage, when respect for the norm
will have blossomed into respect for others and for oneself to another, and when respect will
be extended to anyone who has the right to expect his or her just share in an equitable
A. The Aim of the Good Life and Obligation
The fact that we are putting off for now an examination of the dialogic moment of the
norm does not mean that we are placing some sort of moral solipsism before the reciprocity of
persons. Should there be any need to recall this, the self is not the I, it is instead a matter of
isolating the moment of universality in which, as an ambition as a claim, the norm puts the wish
to live well to the test. Correlatively, this will be the same universality by which the self will
draw its authority on the reflexive plane.
If ethics points towards universalism through the features we have just recalled, moral
obligation is itself not without some connection to the aim of the good life. The anchoring of the
deontological moment in the teleological aim is made evident by the place occupied in Kant by
the concept of the good will. Kant declared in his, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals: it
is impossible to conceive anything at all in the world, or even out of it, which can be taken as
good without qualification, except a good will. Ricoeur said that such concept of Kant has two
assertions: (1) morally good means good without qualification and; (2) the will receives the

predicate good. The will, takes place in Kantian morality that rational desire occupied in
Aristotelian ethics; desire is recognizes through its aim, will through its relation to the law.
B. Solicitude and the Norm
Solicitude is not an external addition to the self-esteem, so the respect owed to persons
does not constitute a heterogeneous moral principle in relation to the autonomy of the self but
develops its implicit dialogic structure on the plane of obligation of rules.
Ricoeur justified the thesis into two: One, by showing the tie which norm of respect owed
to persons is connected to the dialogic structure of the ethical aim, that is precisely to solicitude.
Second, verify that the respect owed to persons is, on the moral plane, in the same relation to
autonomy as solicitude is to the aim of the life on the ethical plane. According to Ricoeur such
indirect procedure will make more comprehensible to the abrupt transition in Kant from the
general formulation of the categorical imperative to the notion of the person as an end in himself
or herself, in the second subsidiary formulation of the imperative.
C. From the Sense of Justice to the Principles of Justice
It should not be surprising that the rule of justice expresses on the level of institutions the same
normative requirement, the same deontological formulation, as autonomy on the pre-dialogic
level and as the respect for persons on the dialogic and interpersonal levelsnot surprising, in
any event, when one consider to what extent legality appears to sum up the moral vision of the
Ricoeur said that it is to institution, that the virtue of justice is first applied. By
institutions, meant the diverse structures of wanting to live together, found to be implied in the
Nicomachean Ethics in the form of distributive justice. He consider that the concept of

distribution is placed at the point of introspection of the ethical aim and the deontological
The principal legacy of ethics to morality lies in the very idea of the just which
henceforth looks both ways: in the direction of the good as the extension of solicitude to each
one of the faceless members of the society; in the direction of the legal, to such a degree does
the prestige of justice appear to dissolve into that of positive law. It is the concern with bringing
this major ambiguity to light that motivates the efforts to remove every teleological basis from
the idea of justice and to assign to it a strictly deontological status.
John Rawls provided a solution to such issue by proposing the term fairness as the key
to the concept of justice because fairness characterizes the original situation contract from which
the justice of basic institutions is held to drive. Ricoeur concluded its reflections on the sense of
justice by saying it tended both toward the sense of mutual indebtedness and toward that of
disinterested interest.

9th Study: The Self and Practical Wisdom: Conviction

In the 9th study, The Self and Practical Wisdom: Conviction, Ricoeur consider the third
volet of the thesis that governs the studies devoted to the ethical dimension of the self: a morality
of obligation, produces conflictual situations where practical wisdom has no recourse, other than
to return to the initial intuition of ethics, in the framework of moral judgment in situation; that is,
to the

vision or aim of the good life with and for others in just institutions, where two

misconceptions must be avoided: first, it is not a matter of adding a third agency to the ethical
perspective and to moment of duty, that corresponding to Hegelian Sittlichkeit and the manner of

referring morality back to ethics is not to be taken to mean that the morality of obligation has
been disavowed.
To further elucidate the point, Ricoeur discusses the idea into three moments: (1)
Institution and conflict; (2) Respect and Conflict and; (3) Autonomy and Conflict.
Institution and Conflict
Ethics responds to moral in three areas: universal self, plurality of persons, and
institutional environment. Ricoeur transforms the Hegelian concept of Sittlichkeit by no longer
denoting a third agency, higher than ethics and morality, but would designate one of the places in
which practical wisdom is exercised, namely the hierarchy of institutional mediations through
which practical wisdom must pass if justice is truly to deserve the name of fairness, which
remains it to be ethical.
Institutional conflict is first a conflict about justice. The rule of justice are have two
different meanings shareinterest of mutually disinterested individuals, and sharingbond
of cooperation. The conflict arises when we move from the procedure to the diversity of things to
Ricoeur identify three levels of conflict: (1) in everyday discussion about priorities of
primary goodsthe first level appears in everyday discussion in a state of law, in deliberation
about priorities among primary goods. The resolution is not a consensus but a political decision
by a majority and the rules. Every decision can later be revoked in accordance with the same
procedurethis is a quotidian practical wisdom. (2) as long-term debate about the ends of good
governmentthe second level appears in the long-term debate about the ends of good
government. The work of philosophy is to clarify their meaning against arbitrariness of the
propagandists. The choice of a good constitution, being is always contingent and for not

transparent motives, supposes a long-term practical wisdom, based on conviction of the

constituting parties and their sense of justice in the moment of choice and; (3) In crisis, with the
question of legitimating a constitutional statethe third level appears in the process of
legitimating a constitutional state in a moment of crisis. The desire to live together transcends
this indetermination through the projection of the fiction of an ahistorical social contract.
Respect and Conflict
A second region of conflict is marked out by the applications of the second Kantian
imperative: treat humanity in ones own person and in the person of others as an end in itself and
not simply as a means. The conflict is possible because of the distinction between the
universality idea of humanity and the pluralist idea of person as end in itself. The conflict is in
the circumstance that the otherness of a person is incompatible with the universal idea. In the
area of plurality of persons, practical wisdom is critical solicitude. The conflict dues to respect
are solved by appeal to reciprocity. Joy leading to compassion and creativity; dignity is emotion
and value linked to availability. Availability to expresses the desire to live together, in the area of
plurality; and finds the desire.
Autonomy and Conflict
Ricoeur discusses what he considers as the bastion of morality: the affirmation of
autonomy, of self-legislation, as the metacritique of morality. The thesis that it is morality itself
which, through the conflicts it generates on the basis of its own presupposition, refers back to the
most original ethical affirmation which finds its final point of application. Kant solves the
conflict giving priority to autonomy upon plurality of persons and institutional justice. This
autonomy is aporetical, being triply affected. The universality claim forms the heart of Kantian
formalism. However, this autonomy in relation to plurality of persons and institutional justice

presents three aporias: (a) liberty is affected by the law it gives itself, (b) reason is affected by
respect as I motive and; (c) reason is radically affected by the propensity to evil. For Ricoeur
autonomy goes with reciprocity, considering the relation between disciple and master, and not
only between master and slave.

Ethics and Culture

Ricoeurs, Ethics and Culture, intends to clarify the antimony of moral philosophy by
placing it in relation to a similar antimony which affects the relations of moral agent with his
cultural heritage or cultural heritages.
Ricoeur consider the notion of value as the center of moral philosophy and on the one
hand, he opposes values to things in order to bind them to freedom. Drawing the most extreme
consequences of the Kantian concept of autonomy we say that values are the work of freedom,
that they express its power of innovation or renovation. It seems here that values can only orient
action because they are discovered, not created. The dilemma is an authentic antimony to the
extent that some undesirable traits of our individual and collective experience seem to justify one
or the other thesis in such a way that it seems as if we ought to accept them both without having
caught sight of the mediations which render them compatible. The antimony of values is
insolvable at the level of an abstract axiology. But it can be clarified a bit if we compare it to a
comparable dilemma in the philosophy of culture which has the advantage of offering the
perspective of a practical and concrete mediation. It is the one that strikes behavior in relation to
cultural heritages, which every culture comes as a received heritage, therefore, as transmitted and
carried by a tradition.

The following discusses on the underlying position or negative evaluation of tradition,

where it presents the two terms of dilemma. On the one hand, reason was defined by its power to
uproot itself from tradition, called prejudice. In return, the authority of tradition could only
appear as a fetter, captivity, violence. The relative sterility of the debate leads to look closer to
our own day for a more extracting an interest to address the problem owner the status of
historical heritage, transmission and tradition, the losers of the emergence of values in history.
Hermeneutical philosophy, in effect, is not addressed directly to the ethical problem of
values, any more than it is limited to the epistemological problem of the human sciences. It digs
beneath both problems in such a way as to bring to light their roots. The basic experience around
which Habermas, Truth and Method, is organized and its claim to universality which constitutes
of alienating distanciation. It is the ontological presupposition which underlies the objective
conduct of the human sciences. The methodology of these sciences necessarily implies a taking
of distance, which in its turn expresses the destruction of the primordial relation of participation
of Zugechorigkeit (affiliation)without which there would not exist any relation to the historical
as such.
The first movement of a philosophical discourse in its entirety under the aegis of a
concept of interest, which proceeds directly from the Marxist critique of philosophical discourse
in general and of Hegelian discourse in particular. Philosophical hermeneutics is reproach for
remaining, in the widest sense of the word of philosophy of discourse, even though it speaks of
aesthetics and history and even through it treats the dimension of language as a simple place for
the articulation of our aesthetic and historical experience.
The first step of the critique of ideologies, cannot fail to affect our debate centered on the
axiological problem. The problem of the origin of values is perhaps insoluble as long as it is

posed by a philosophy which is conceived of a theories and next, if the task of a metacritique to
unmask the interests hidden every pretension. It is also tasks to resist to single kind of interest,
where Ricoeur considers Harbermas third classification of interest, which governs human
activity, interest in emancipation, where it defines the highest value which is freedom as it grasps
itself as a process of emancipation.
It is within the very concept of historical efficacity, understood by Gadamer as
consciousness exposed to the effects of history, that Ricoeur discern the necessity to overcome
the massive opposition between participation and alienating distanciation. Historical efficacity is
efficacity at a distance, which makes the distant near. Without the tension between the self and
the other, there is not historical consciousness. The dialectic of participation and distanciation is
the key to the concept pf fusion of horizon within which is expressed the communication of the
present with the past.
In conclusion, Ricoeur draws a practical solution to the antimony of values between
hermeneutic of tradition and a critique of ideologies. First, the antimony which appears to us to
characterize this problem finds its confirmation of axiology. We can perhaps transvaluate values,
but we can never create them beginning from zero. The passage through tradition has no other
justification than this antecedence of the ethical world with regard to every ethical subject. It is
only under the aegis of our interest in emancipation that we are stirred to transvaluate what has
already been evaluated. It is this interest in emancipation which introduces what I call ethical
distance in our relation to any heritage.