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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

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 world or the circumstances of his origin. Self-assertion can succeed only if the individual recognizes the passional elements in the development of the self that are beyond his or her control and draws on them actively for support. There is self-assertion in and against physical situations, in and against social challenges, but also in and against challenges arising from changes in the individual’s own corporeal situation in the world or changes of his original situation. Self-assertion in the process of formation of an individual and in the history of a group can play both a positive and a negative role. In the formation of individuals, it has a positive effect when and to the extent that it serves to preserve an attained degree of maturity of the self and substantiation of the individual’s self-image; it has a negative effect when it serves to impede or repudiate the chances for the self to mature and the self-image to take on substance. It social effect is positive to the extent that it opens opportunities for others to mature and encourages their retention. It is negative when it blocks demands for maturation from the social environment, defies or impedes steps toward maturity, and if it impedes others from taking such steps or does not recognize them…

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…

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 …

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, …

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).”…

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 point – independently – to the same basic phenomenon: The possibility condition of action – in the actional present of pe…

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 decisiona…

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…

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 f…

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…

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…

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 …

Goods, Assessment of

(401 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] The assessment of goods or benefits is often the last step in the formation of ethical judgments, as when the choice of a course of conduct cannot be derived from a general or specific directive for action. It is necessary when one of the available courses of action is not clearly preferable to others, whether because several appear equally preferable, a temporal sequencing of the goods to be achieved by them is impossible, so that other goods (Good) must be abandoned in favor of …

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…

Is/Ought

(593 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] In the culture of ethical argumentation, every inference of an “ought”-statement from an “is”-statement is today still largely rejected as a “naturalistic fallacy.” The prevailing standpoint is that the contents of all imperatives (universal, general, or pertaining to individual cases) can only be inferred from sets of premises, the maior of which is in turn an “ought”-statement. Consequently, contents of imperatives (Norms) and ¶ binding goals of action can no longer be justified in reference to natural law (to the nature of the object), but …

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…

Hirsch, Emanuel

(693 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] (Jun 14, 1888, Benwitsch – Jul 17, 1972, Göttingen). After childhood and youth in a Berlin parsonage, Hirsch studied Protestant theology in Berlin (1906–1910; encounter with K. Holl, whom Hirsch acknowledged as his teacher; friendship with P. Tillich). He passed the first theological examination in 1911 and became a tutor, 1912–1915 inspector at the Theologische St…

Hayek, Friedrich August von

(245 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] (May 8, 1899, Vienna – Mar 23, 1992, Freiburg i.Br.), studied law and economics in Vienna, was director of the Östereichisches Institut für Konjunkturforschung (Austrian Institute for Economic Research) (1927–1931), held professorships in the London School of Economics (1931–1950), Chicago (1950–1962), Freiburg im Breisgau (1962–1968), and received the Nobel Memorial Prize from the Bank of Sweden in 1974. Beginning with studies on monetary and economic cyle theory, Hayek turned in ¶ the 1940s to the study of the theoretical, socio-philosophical and a…

Highest Good

(2,585 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] Any understanding of “good” and “goods” is determined by an understanding of the highest good. 1 The so-called “good” is that which, as the perfection of the present, is experienced as attractive and thus as something to strive for (cf. Arist. Eth. Nic. 1094 a3, 1172b; Thomas Aquinas, In Metaphysicam Aristotelis commentaria, 1926, Liber IV, n. 317). Every present-action context defines the good in three configurations: (a) as a determination of the present-action context that has become world-immanent (the realized bonum); (b) as still outstanding possibiliti…

Criteriology

(500 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] is the theory (the epitome of statements) of the necessary and sufficient conditions for the (given) presence of distinctions. We need a criteriology to carry out our praxis of distinction deliberately and responsibly – both for appropriate apprehension of distinctions already made (either throu…

Option

(347 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] For persons standing on the ground of the (externally or personally chosen) realized situation of their own personhood, in their pragmatic present, there are still determinations of their own being to be made, and in each case they must make a choice. It is always a matter of effective physical behaviors (Action), in accordance with physical and social rules of effectivity. Options are those selectable behaviors of which the function is known, and the effect foreseeable. They can be understood as possible moves during the person’s interaction with the social and natural environment. The essence of the option with which an interacting person is faced determines the essence of the steps that he or she may choose in order to reach his ultimate and preliminary goals, i.e. his “room for maneuver.” The criterion for choosing an option is that it should contribute effectively to the attainment of the goal, without inducing a situation that would offer fewer options; the preferred option should be one that is likely to lead to a situation that offers an equal or even greater number of options. In compliance with the principle of maintaining social and physical sustainability, the options that are to be chosen are those with the highest “option value,” i.e. those that will probably contribute most to the maintenance and increase of options. Such a sustainable maintenance and increase of option diversity is possible, because: although the selecting of an option in any present implies that all other options will not be selected in this present (and thus also not realized), yet the con…

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…

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, …

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,…

Public Choice

(438 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] The expression public choice denotes the central theme of a debate concerning social ethics – or, more precisely, the ethics of government action. This debate has been carried on the United States since the late 1950s and has also reached Europe: What ethically grounded constitutional principles provide a criterion for the scope and nature of governmental legal decisions (formal and operative) in questions of justice? Nozick recommends a purely negative policy: government decisions s…

Technological Ethics

(252 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] is the branch of ethics that examines the advantages and disadvantages of technological development and applications of technology. Its central themes are: compatibility of the application of certain technologies with human dignity, the preferability of competing possibilities of technological development, questions of justice in the distribution of benefits and burdens generated by a technology, compatibility with the common good, especially in the long term, and the preferabilit…

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…

Two Kingdoms Doctrine

(2,873 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert
[German Version] I. Dogmatics A discussion of the two kingdoms doctrine that wants to avoid mistakes must note two things. ¶ 1. The expression two kingdoms doctrine – like the doctrine of justification – is a product of reflection on the later designation of complexes of theological doctrine that were unavoidable even before this name was given them, because they deal with elements of the certainty of faith that are inescapable in any coherent explication of faith. The label two kingdoms doctrine, however, is not a product of the 16th century but of the debates in German Lut…

Human Dignity

(1,961 words)

Author(s): Cancik, Hubert | Herms, Eilert
[German Version] I. Historical Background – II. Theology I. Historical Background 1. Important terminology of modern legal culture was formed in antiquity: natural law , freedom , equality , justice , etc. Some terms, however, appeared in a different context in antiquity, or were less central and widespread than in the modern period. This is true of human rights ( ius humanum), freedom of religion ( libertas religionis), person ( persona; self), as well as human dignity ( dignitas hominis; dignity, dignity of life). The latter expression first appears in Cicero ( De officiis I 30.106;…

Dogmatics

(10,340 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert | Lange, Dietz
[German Version] I. History – II. Systematics – III. Glaubenslehre (Doctrine of the Faith) I. History The term “dogmatics,” first used in the 17th century, refers to one of the oldest branches of theological endeavor: a coherent account of the content of the Christian proclamation, which in turn takes its orientation from the standard (“canonical”) paradigms of confession and proclamation. Other terms – “An exact exposition of the orthodox faith” (John of Damascus), “Sentences” (Peter Lombard), Summa Theologiae (Thomas Aquinas), Institutes of the Christian Religion (Calvin), L…

Media

(1,138 words)

Author(s): Herms, Eilert | Grethlein, Christian
[German Version] I. Concept and Scope – II. Practical Theology I. Concept and Scope In its broad sense, the term media denotes all the material conditions that enable coexisting individuals (individual persons and social systems) to be effectively present to each other and to respond effectively. Media in this broad sense are the material conditions for intersubjectivity. Even archaic, undifferentiated societies are characterized by a – likewise undifferentiated – complex of media. Social differentiation leads to…

Certainty

(3,343 words)

Author(s): Künne, Wolfgang | Herms, Eilert
[German Version] I. Philosophy – II. Fundamental Theology – III. Dogmatics – IV. Ethics I. Philosophy Certainty may be either objective or subjective (Goclenius: certitudo rei cognitae or certitudo hominis cognoscentis). Objective certainty is expressed by “It is certain that p,” subjective certainty by “The epistemic subject S i…
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