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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 …

Dignity

(409 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] renders the Latin dignitas and, like it, refers to a relationship, the unity of the being of “a” for “b” and the determination of “b” by “a,” that is: the being of the one who has dignity for his addressee and, at the same time, the latter's being as determined by the being of the one who has dignity for him. Three elements of this relationsh…

Self-assertion

(415 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] Self-assertion can involve (1) individuals and (2) groups. 1. Self-assertion of an individual person is his or her effort to maintain the constitution he has achieved in the course of his personal formation as a self, guided and motivated a particular self-image, endowed with certain faculties of experience, processing of experience, and action, against demands for change made in the course of his development from the dimension of his relationship to the environment, his self, and the wor…

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…

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…

Briefs, Goetz Anton

(240 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] (Jan 1, 1889, Eschweiler– May 16, 1974, Rome) was a sociologist and economist. Beginning in 1913, he taught at the Universities of Freiburg and Würzburg, beginning in 1926, at the Technical University of Berlin. He emigrated to the USA in 1934, was guest professor at the Catholic University in Washington DC until 1937, from them until 1962 (wh…

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…

Metaethics

(628 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] The triumph of the sensualistic restriction of the recognizable and real to what exists in sensory perception – which was not hindered but actually encouraged by I. Kant's transcendental philosophy (contrary to its intention) owing to the fact that the latter also viewed sensory perception as a necessary prerequisite for many different types of true knowledge and thereby also excluded itself (i.e. its theory of the theoretical as well as its theory of practical reasoning, includin…

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…

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.

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 …

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…
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