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LESSON 2: Anthropological Basis of Ethics

In the First Person: An Outline of General Ethics (2nd ed.) by Aldo Vendemiati

Classical: acting subject seeks the good or virtuous

life, which consists of true happiness ethics of the
first person
Can be found in Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas
Classical ethics vs. Modern ethics
Modern: external POV; seeks criteria/principles/norms
of just action ethics of the third person
Can be found in Hobbes
The principle of the intelligibility of a normative ethics
of the third person must be located in the ethics of the
first person.

Human conduct contain an original, practical

knowledge that is not reducible to the knowledge of
the legislator/judge; an operative knowledge that has
its own logic
Ethics as a practical science How to become more human
This allows Ethics to exist as a normative science
Moral experience is found in all men by simply being
Ethics IS NOT moral experience
human Millan Puelles
Moral experience is prior and not invented by Ethics
Moral experience is rooted in? The essence of human life
Our judgment on the behavior of others
Examine moral experience in reference to:
Judgment we make on our own behavior
Judgment on the behavior of others
No one should ever act that way!
Affirms the permanence of moral sense
Scandal Scandalized to be surprised that certain deeds can
Bestowing negative value judgment
Latin ad-mirari: to behold
Expression of esteem and wonder felt in front of
beautiful and extraordinary things
Admiration for a human work includes appreciation
for its author
BUT you can admire his work and appreciate him as
an artist without admiring him as a man
We cant be scandalized or cant admire something is
Presence of a framework of values on the basis of
we do not have an idea of how a human being should
which to judge
be and behave
Judgment we make on our own behavior
Guilty past raises itself against the present which
creates fractures in the soul of the subject
Awareness of having done evil
Remorse Having broken the right order of things
Understanding that we have betrayed our duty
to do or avoid something
Sense of absoluteness
Gratification Opposite of remorse
Felt when we are aware of having acted rightly
Serenity, satisfaction, joy

Meaning of these experiences, examining their essential content

Moral experience arises only in the presence of
voluntary behavior
Moral experience involves will, therefore freedom
Moral experience always has some voluntary Motivation for our admiration: their voluntary conduct
behavior as its object
What we admire stems from their voluntary
behavior; what the subject has accomplished
to become himself
In aesthetic experience: will is attracted by pleasure
Moral experience is an experience that obligates the In moral experience: will is obligated by duty

Moral obligation: appeal of duty to the will
Moral experience is always an experience of Moral duty presents itself as an appeal we must
responsibility freely answer
You have the power to do or not to do a thing
The experience of moral obligation involves freedom No freedom = no moral experience
Dimension of responsibility is inherent in duty
If a certain action presents itself as good I feel that
I must do it
Duty and happiness
Millan Puelles: a good person is someone who is
happy fulfilling duty than someone who does not
One fundamental desire that motivates all desires Desire to be happy

The Acting Subject

Ethical realism
Moral experience all men have from an intrinsic law in
Ethics is based on man where reason tells them to do good and avoid
Reason also demands man to use all non-moral Ex. Even if he doesnt act badly, a student is bad if he
means to act good does not use all means available to study
Ethics is realistic men can do acts of fulfilling the
Norms doable, practicable
Bases of ethics Dynamism of natural tendencies
Perfectibility (implying progress and rectification)

Human Action as Immanent Activity

Every human act leaves a trace in us & modifies our
Repetition of an action habits
tendencies, will, thinking, bodies
We imagine something/someone that attracts us and
give ourselves up to the thought and desire of that
object, this desire and the image that provokes it will
come back to us again easily, influencing our
successive decision
My acts flow back on the very faculties that set those
acts in motion. There is a kind of retro-activity, a feed-
back, that shapes me and causes my faculties to
acquire a stable orientation to act in one way or
Polo: Ethics presents itself from the very depths of the
human. Corporeal and spiritual The development of
humanity in each human being proceeds from his
actions. If acts do not influence his mode of being, if
they do not leave a trace, if they do not modify or
perfect the human in each one, the human being is
not being open to the growth of his essence