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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…

Morals

(937 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] The term “morals” designates all aspects of a rule-complying and thus relatively stabilized form of interaction that is founded on motivating and guiding certainties (or convictions) and, accordingly, on affective pursuits and interests with the fundamental decisions resulting therefrom. As such, it is equivalent to “ethos” (though emphasis on the individual may be stronger than in the social focus of “ethos”); there is a corresponding equivalence between “moral philosophy” and “e…

Sports

(735 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] Generally, the term sport can be understood to cover all manifestations of regulated, agonal, motor interaction that qualify as ludic (Play) and as such subserve corporeal self-awareness (prowess, body control, achievement [II; Contest], pleasure) and corporeal expression of the participants’ sense of self. Such phenomena have been present in all ages and all cultures, though with varying public impact. In pre-Christian antiquity, sport played a major public role (the classical Olympic Games from 776 bce to 393 ce [Olympia]), which shrank as Christianity b…

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 Goods

(568 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] I. can refer to a sub-discipline of ethics: reflection on consequences, on interaction within an ethos and its contribution to the bonum commune/proprium. This task is indispensable because actions have consequences (Consequence/Inherent consequences of actions), which – depending on knowledge and ability – can be foreseen, intended and brought about with varying degrees of certainty so t…

Ethos

(716 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] The word ethos combines the meanings of Gk ἔϑος/ éthos (“custom”) and ἦϑος/ ḗthos (“natural stopping place, what is usual there, inner nature, character”); it always denotes a specific way in which individual living creatures deal regularly with others of their species and the challenges of their environment. The authority of the rules governing this behavior is somehow fixed in the internal milieu …

Dogma

(2,847 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] is not an expression of faith or of ecclesial doctrine, but of theological reflection on these (as also e.g. “revelation”); the term is borrowed from the educated vocabulary of Hellenism. Its pre-Christian meanings are: (a) “opinion,” (b) “individual judgment,” “decision” or “resolution,” within a legal context also an “ordinance,” “edict,…

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…

Creation, Order of

(1,032 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] I. Dogmatics – II. Ethics I. Dogmatics The revelation (V) of Christ discloses to faith that the meaning and truth of Jesus' life for human life in the present is creation in the process of realizing its goal, the consummation of God's kingdom. At the same time, it discloses the mystery of Jesus' person as the incarnate Logos of the Creator and thus the true nature of his work, grounded in the Creator's eternal will for ¶ communion, reconciliation, and consummation (Dogmatics: II): the work of creation that provides human life in the present. Its purpose …

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, …

Professional Ethics

(247 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] the fformer theoretical concern with the ethos of individual classes or estates (nobility, officialdom, citizenry, clergy; estate cf. Ger. Standesethik) has given way to concern the ethos of certain vocations or professions; and this only to the extent that for such groups the general public still has certain basic expectations of behavior and performance, whose fulfillment is directly linked to the provision of professional services – for example, in the case of clergy, doctors and caregivers, admi…

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…

Adiaphora

(1,901 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] I. Philosophy – II. Theology – III. Social Ethics The expression (Gk ἀδιάφορα semantic equivalents: intermediates, Gk μέση, mesē-, that which is permitted) designates phenomena of human life that are neither positive (good, bonum) nor negative (evil, malum) in the ethical realm (i.e. with regard to the attainment of human destiny). In the strict sense, then, adiaphora occur only in ethical systems whose guiding understanding of humani…

Fontane, Theodor

(771 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] (Dec 30, 1819, Neu-Ruppin – Sep 20, 1898, Berlin). Fontane's parents were from Huguenot families. From 1850 he worked with the Literary Cabinet of the Prussian Ministry of the Interior, in 1852 and 1855–59 he was a correspondent in London, 1859–70 editor of the Kreuz-Zeitung, from 1871 theater critic of the Vossische Zeitung, from March to May 1876 secretary of the Prussian Academy (II, 3) of Arts, a position he voluntarily resigned. He then lived as a freelance writer. After initially being known as a poet, especially of ballads, …

Sovereignty

(970 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] The term sovereignty – as defined by J. Bodin after antique and medieval precursors – does not denote a legal title but a social reality, the reality of an effective social power to preserve external and internal peace in the territory over which it holds sway, a “commonwealth.” The term itself implies its peculiar mode of operation: recognition of its bearer as possessing the coercive power ( vis) necessary to assure sufficient compliance internally with the laws it issues, to make appointments to office and vest them with authority, and also to…

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…

Middle Axiom

(89 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] At the first plenary assembly of the World Council of Churches (Amsterdam, 1948), J.H. Oldham put forward the concept of a “responsible society” as a concrete goal to guide the churches' socioethical involvement in response to the social conditions of the day. He called this the “middle axiom.” The expression became common currency, in the sense of a “medium-range (socioethical) maxim: (II).” Eilert Herms Bibliography J.H. Oldham, “A Responsible Society,” in: The Church and the Disorder of Scoiety, publ. World Council of Churches, 1948, 120–154.

Interim Ethics

(403 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] If there are objective or subjective reasons to regard a life-orienting certainty concerning the nature (essence), origin and destiny of the world and humanity and the rules of action derived from it as valid for only a limited time, one speaks of an interim ¶ ethics. More properly, it should be referred to as an interim ethos or an interim morality. Examples include (a) the ethos of Jesus and (b) the “provisional morality” of R. Descartes ( Discours de la méthode, 1637; ET: Discourse on Method, 1960). a. A. Schweitzer first described Jesus' ethos as an “interim eth…

Ritschl

(1,383 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] 1. Albrecht (Mar 25, 1822, Stettin – Mar 20, 1889, Göttingen). After studies in Bonn (1839–1841 under K.I. Nitzsch), Halle (1841–1843 under F.A.G. Tholuck, Julius Müller, J.E. Erdmann, and K. Schwarz), Ritschl gained his doctorate in Halle ( Expositio doctrinae Augustini de creatione mundi, peccato, gratia, 1843). He took his first examination in 1844, continued his studies in Heidelberg (1845 under R. Rothe) and Tübingen (1845/1846 under F.C. Baur, E. Zeller, A. Schwegler, and F.T. Vischer), gained his Habilitation in Bonn (1846; diss. on Marcion and the o…

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 …
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