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Casuistry

(661 words)

Author(s): Schwartz, Werner
1. The term “casuistry” denotes the methodical process of bringing individual, real-life cases under the established norms of a discipline or worldview or ethics. It has its roots in law. As in Roman and English law, general rules are developed on the basis of individual cases; these general rules in turn are applied to individual cases. The same procedure may then be adopted in other spheres in which human conduct is evaluated according to fixed norms. We find it in almost all religions in connection with ideas of sin and purification, as well as in broad ethical traditions. 2. Rabbinic Jewi…

Envy

(810 words)

Author(s): Schwartz, Werner
1. In Scripture According to Scripture, envy is a basic negative factor in human life. In primeval history, Cain slew Abel out of envy (Gen. 4:3–16). Envy moved Joseph’s brothers to sell him into slavery in Egypt (Gen. 37:4). Saul showed envy in his relation to David (1 Sam. 18:6–9). Envy can express itself in the glance of an eye (1 Sam. 18:9; Sir. 14:9; 31:13–14; cf. Matt. 20:15; Mark 7:22). Later Jewish Wisdom literature considered envy, as the opposite of wisdom and generosity, the root of a cramped attitude to life (Wis. 6:23; cf. 7:13). Warnings were issued against envying the u…

Responsibility

(1,534 words)

Author(s): Schwartz, Werner
1. Term Responsibility has to do with relations. It speaks of the account we must give for our actions; we are answerable for them. Originally, in law, it meant responsibility to a judge. Have we fulfilled our duties? Have we observed generally acknowledged precepts? In theology we are responsible both to God as the Judge of the world and also to others and to our own conscience. Education will prepare people to accept responsibility by showing them the relevant norms, equipping them with powers o…

Antinomy

(166 words)

Author(s): Schwartz, Werner
The word “antinomy” denotes the rationally irreconcilable contradiction between two equally well-grounded laws or statements. After I. Kant (1724–1804; Kantianism), antinomies have been based on the contrariety of the laws of human reason as it traces back everything conditioned to the unconditioned and yet views every condition as itself conditioned, or finally based on the tension between the empirical world and the world of the unconditioned that is posited in metaphysics and epistemology (Di…

Epistemology

(1,972 words)

Author(s): Brown, Robert F. | Schwartz, Werner | Reichenbach, Bruce R.
1. Philosophical 1.1. Knowledge and Belief Epistemology (Gk. epistēmē, “knowledge”) concerns what counts as knowledge and how we acquire it. Formal systems (logic and mathematics) are known a priori, apart from experience. Philosophers disagree as to whether knowledge about the world is a posteriori (derived from experience) or is in some sense also a priori. Most discussion involves knowledge of propositions (expressed in language), although other kinds include tacit knowledge (without explicit awareness of it) and “knowing how,” or skill in doing something. Plato (427–347 b…

Duty

(781 words)

Author(s): Schwartz, Werner
1. In everyday parlance, “duty” denotes what we ought to do because an inner as well as an outer legal code of what is expected in social relations prescribes it, irrespective of our own subjective inclinations (Action Theory). 2. Stoicism introduced the term into the discussion of philosophical ethics, arguing that what is fitting for us (Gk. to kathēkon) is to act in harmony with the laws of nature and of the universe, which are reflected in human reason. By way of Cicero (106–43 b.c.), the concept of duty (Lat. officium, “dutiful or respectful action”) found its way into Christ…

Allegory

(334 words)

Author(s): Schwartz, Werner
Allegory is an artistic or linguistic form that expresses something different (Gk. allēgoreō) from what it states directly. In art it represents that which cannot be represented directly, usually in a complex picture that carries individual features (personification). In literature it is a story in which a second complex of meaning may be discerned behind the literal one. In interpretation one decodes the individual elements, which have the character of metaphors, and reconstructs the whole on the level …

Hedonism

(352 words)

Author(s): Schwartz, Werner
Deriving from Gk. hēdonē (pleasure, joy), hedonism is an ethical theory that is close to utilitarianism. It regards happiness as the goal of human action (so generally eudaemonism; Ethics), equating this happiness positively with the achieving of the greatest possible pleasure and negatively with the ¶ avoiding of unhappiness or pain. The term has been used since the 19th century to describe the ethical theories of the Cyrenaics (Aristippus, Euhemerus), the Epicureans, the philosophers of the Renaissance (L. Valla), those of the Enlighte…

Deontology

(414 words)

Author(s): Schwartz, Werner
The term “deontology” comes from the Gk. to deon, meaning “what is required; duty.” J. Bentham (1748–1832) was the first to use the term. He denoted by it the whole complex of his utilitarian theory, which is oriented to a balance of duty and self-interest. Since the time of Bentham the usage has changed. “Deontology” now denotes normative ethical theories (Norms; Metaethics) that assess moral actions (or judgments or rules, e.g., the rule that promises must be kept) solely in terms of themselves. Quite apart from any positive or negative consequences, qualities…

Meaning

(2,351 words)

Author(s): Brown, Robert F. | Schwartz, Werner
Overview “Meaning” has diverse senses in everyday language and in various scientific and cultural disciplines. The context is crucial for clarification in each particular instance. In general, finding meaning concerns the ability to recognize salient features of the world and to employ that recognition as a framework of understanding or as information useful for accomplishing a specific purpose. Theories differ as to whether meaning resides primarily in thought, in a person’s linguistic expression or act, in some featur…

Norms

(1,181 words)

Author(s): Schwartz, Werner
1. Definitions A norm (from Lat. norma, “carpenter’s square,” later “rule, measure, regulation”) may be theoretical (in descriptive natural and social sciences) or practical (in normative sciences, such as logic, aesthetics, ethics, and theology). In common speech norms denote (1) average values by which to measure what is normal or abnormal, and in technical or pragmatic usage, (2) conventional units of measurement or rules by which to classify things or behavior (e.g., traffic laws). Norms in the various descriptive and theoretical sciences describe a variety of r…

Analytic Ethics

(891 words)

Author(s): Schwartz, Werner
1. Concept Analytic ethics denotes the treatment of ethics within British analytic philosophy as this has been pursued from the beginning of the 20th century. Unlike the mainstream of traditional moral philosophy, analytic ethics does not try to work out a system of principles so as to give valid guidance to acts and judgments and thus to tell us in practice what we ought to do. Instead, it engages in a theoretical analysis of moral phenomena on the level of language, examining the sentences in which moral statements are made and the meanings of the terms they use (e.g., “good,” “bad,” “rig…