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Action, Types of

(496 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] In his Philosophical Ethics, F.D.E. Schleiermacher distinguished between “symbolizing action” and “organizing action”; in his Christliche Sitte, he further distinguished “representative” and “effective” action, as well as “purgative” and “broadening action.” Habermas, in his recent Theory of Communicative Action, uses analogous language to indicate the difference between teleological, strategic, norm-based, dramaturgical, and communicative action. Both authors po…

Responsibility

(676 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] is the essential mode in which persons interact. It has three constitutive aspects: (a) its bearer (who?), (b) its forum (before whom?), and (c) its substance (for what?). Each of these aspects is itself relational. The bearers are self-identified persons, acting of their own free will in a mundane decisional present; the fora relate to norms; the substances are chosen or to-be-chosen determinations of the self-and-its-world. All aspects and every relation term of every aspect can…

Preimplantation Diagnostics

(495 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] is an umbrella term covering the procedures used to examine an embryo (Embryo research) conceived in vitro before implantation, to detect certain pathogenic genetic mutations but also more generally to identify other genetically controlled characteristics. The identification is made by ¶ blastomere biopsy (application of molecular genetics to blastomeres, the daughter cells of the morula [embryo at the 16-cell stage, reached after three to four days]) or by blastocyst biopsy (application of molecular genetics to cells of…

Prenatal Diagnostics

(479 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] Like preimplantation diagnostics, prenatal diagnostics comprises procedures to diagnose diseases (Sickness and healing) before birth; unlike preimplantation diagnostics, however, it examines only implanted embryos (fetuses). The procedures ¶ employed include ultrasound, amniocentesis, and chorionic villi sampling; less commonly, umbilical cord puncture, embryoscopy, fetoscopy, and fetal liver or skin biopsy. Ultrasound has generally become a routine measure in medical pregnancy management. The stated purpose…

Rational Choice

(268 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] denotes a choice of behavior that leads to a chosen external target situation, better (more economically, more securely, with no, or fewer, unwanted side-effects) than other forms of behavior that could have been chosen at the same time. Such rationality of choice is related to the actor’s knowledge (of facts and rules), and to ethical convictions (e.g. excluding a goal attained by behavior that uses other persons only as means, not also as end in themselves [I. Kant]). Judgment o…

Economic Ethics

(1,931 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] I. History – II. Problems and Themes I. History As reflection on the lived ethos, ethics has since Antiquity also considered economic participation, as it touches on ethos, as an essential component of ethos. Aristotle restricted economy to securing household autarchy, from which commerce was distinct; and, insofar as it produced money from money in transactions involving interest, he rejected it ( Eth. Nic. 1256 b 1–8). The Bible, especially in the OT, gives numerous rules regarding the support …

Consequence/Inherent Consequences of Actions

(588 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] Every action has inculculable inherent consequences, and even its actual consequences are only partially foreseeable. This is due to the fact that action originates from a presence of action within this world, whose restrictions govern the impact of its effects. By choosing one of several available present possibilities of further becoming, action transforms this possibility into the determination of the presence to act as one that has become. This determination is inherent in the action as its effect. The effects of an action are different in importance, …

Servum arbitrium

(1,165 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] I. Dogmatics M. Luther’s insight into the servum arbitrium (“unfree will”) is at the heart of his Reformation ontology of created personhood (Person). Its core content is recognition of the radically passive constitution of the conditions that make it possible and necessary (unavoidable) for an individual to will self-consciously and freely (Freedom: VII) – that is, rationally and responsibly – and to act accordingly. These conditions are (a) the “being affected” of the individual’s appetitus (being-out-for) by either the created world (as the apparent …

Generation Contract

(1,108 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] In the broad sense, the generation contract entails every sort of responsible provision and consideration by one generation for the subsequent generations. Every generation is dependent on the acquisitions and savings of its predecessors and assumes the responsibility for the future well-being of its offspring through its own acquisitions and savings. This applies not only to assets, but also to forms of social life, educational and cultural background of whatever origin (both psy…

Dignity of Life

(435 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] The heightened sensitivity to ecological issues in the last decades of the 20th century led to the broad acceptance of the earlier expressed feeling (cf. A. Schweitzer's “reverence for life”) that not just human beings but all living things are endowed with dignity and, accordingly, that the human being (as a recipient of dignity) should respect his own dignity as a living being by recognizing and appropriately respecting the dignity of …

Brandström, Elsa

(93 words)

Author(s): Herms Eilert
[German Version] (Mar 26, 1888, daughter of the Swedish ambassador in St. Petersburg – Mar 4, 1948, Cambridge, MA) served in Siberia during World War I as a Red Cross delegate for German and Austrian prisoners of war. She worked there during the typhoid epidemic, organizing help efforts. After the war she founded sanatoria for former prisoners of war (Marienborn, Schreibermühle) and a home for war orphans (Neusorge/Mittweida) with American aid. Eilert Herms Bibliography E. Brandström, Unter Kriegsgefangenen in Rußland und Sibirien, 1921 E. Juhl et al., Elsa Brandström, 1962.

Geismar, Eduard

(204 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] (Feb 12, 1871, Randers, Denmark – May 14, 1939, Copenhagen) served as a pastor in Copenhagen from 1899 until 1921, when he became professor of systematic theology. Sensitized by the Student Christian Movement and the Church's Urban Office for Social and Political Questions, he took an active part in founding Danmarks Retsforbund (Justice Party/Single-Tax Party), a party backing social reform. Influenced by S. Kierkegaard, he espoused an ethics of the individual conscience bound by…

Coercion

(357 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] (Lat. coercitio) takes place when a certain type of behavior is forcibly imposed upon a person against his/her declared will. “Means of coercion” are the embodiment of all instruments that are available for this purpose. The availability of such means is indispensable for the state if it is to fulfill its fundamental task of maintaining the peace. The latter requires it to enforce compliance with the legal order, especially on the part of t…

Self-control

(369 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] (Gk σωϕροσύvη/ sōphrosýnē, ἐγκράτεια/ enkráteia; Lat. temperantia, moderatio, continentia, imperium in semetipsum; Ger. Selbstbeherrschung; Fr. maitrise de soi) means mastery (Dominion) over oneself, exercised by the self. As in outward relationships between persons, rule or dominion means the effective control of an inferior will by a superior will within an individual’s personhood. With variations in terminology, self-control has been a theme of the theory of virtues in philosophy and theology, …

State

(4,704 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] I. Terminology The word state with its various cognates came into use in the Romance languages in the 16th century and was used in German ( Staat) by the end of the 18th. It expresses the notion of the socio-historical “state” or “condition” of a body politic – more specifically the state of physical security ensured for this body by the authority effective and recognized within a “national population” living in its “national territory” (Georg Jellinek [1851–1911], Allgemeine Staatslehre, 1900). Domestically the authority reliably governs the outward relati…

Self-interest

(343 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] The concept of “interest” in its civil and economic sense is rooted in Roman law (indemnification, benefit, advantage, value). Extended to include political action and its goals, in the 16th century it became a general designation of the motives governing the actions of competing individuals or collectives pursuing the goal of their own advantage. Finally (since T. Hobbes) it became the designation of the natural motivation of all possible action, with the goal of the actant’s self-preservation. Late Scholasticism and Christian moral philosophy questioned…

Restriction

(349 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] Restrictions are those ongoing or momentary conditions imposed on human action that are given prior to a particular action and cannot be evaded in the choice of ends and actions but must be taken into account by any rational choice. Ongoing conditions consist in the total relational structure of personhood in the world (i.e. in the unity of the relationship of the author of an action to the world, to himself, and to the source of the relationship between relation to the world and relation to oneself). The ongoing and fu…

Damage

(460 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] refers to the essence of all the effects of natural or social events that, in contrast to benefit, do not maintain or increase the possibilities of human life, but diminish them. The subject of ethical consideration cannot be damage caused by nature (IV), but only damage as the consequence of human action. The deliberate production of damage b…

Ethics of Responsibility

(483 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] To the degree that any ethics reflects responsible action in the context of an ¶ ethos, it is an ethics of responsibility and can thus deal with various aspects of being responsible (Responsibility). First, its constitutive requirements. Here, it is a matter of whether responsibility is created through the experience of the other or is already presumed in it and …

Präimplantationsdiagnostik

(470 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[English Version] (PID). PID ist der Inbegriff der Verfahren, mittels derer an einem in vitro erzeugten Embryo (Embryonen, Forschung an) vor seiner Implantation gewisse krankheitserzeugende Genveränderungen, grundsätzlich aber auch andere genetisch bedingte Eigenschaften, festgestellt werden können. Die Feststellung erfolgt durch Blastomerenbiopsie (molekulargenetische Untersuchung von Blastomeren, den Tochterzellen der Morula [Embryo im nach drei bis vier Tagen erreichten 16-Zellstadium]) oder al…
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