On Moral Action
We have treated the question of the responsibility that exists after the completion of an action. But how does the problem of responsibility that grows out of action present itself? How does action take place when it is undertaken in the first place with regard to (or for) the fact that it will result in a particular responsibility on the part of the actor?
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- 1.It can also occur, however, that the action of the doer contains in itself a positive or negative value, independently from the value of the success, for example, when it is carried out in an especially responsible manner. It can, for example, be morally “good” if an actor, in full consciousness of personal danger threatening him, nevertheless plans to realize a value.Google Scholar
- 2.The question of what it means that certain values “annul” other values, or “counter-balance” (ausgleichen) them (come into balance with them) or “elicit” them, is an especially difficult problem which as far as I know has never been treated or solved. Nevertheless this remakrable relation between values or their meaningfulness and possibility is everywhere silently presupposed. Without it no justice would be possible at all, and its meaning could not be comprehended.Google Scholar
- 3.I have analysed, in part, the ambiguity of the concepts of objectivity and subjectivity in ‘Betrachtungen zum Problem der Objektivität’ in: Zeitschrift für philosophische Forschung, Hejt I and II, 1967. Cf. also my article ‘Quelques remarques sur le problème de la relativité de valours’ in Actes du III Congrès des Sociétés de Philosophie de langue française, Bruxelles- Louvain 2–5 September 1947, Paris, 1947.Google Scholar
- 4.I consider this interpretation to be entirely false, but I do not deny that sometimes illusions of that sort arise, or can arise.Google Scholar
- 5.And not merely by means of a dictatorial edict.Google Scholar
- 6.Besides, it is entirely incomprehensible how such requirements, orders or judicial systems could, of themselves, create any kind of values. What has been commanded or demanded does not somehow become “better” (valuable) because it has been commanded or demanded; nor does its non-fulfillment therefore become somehow “bad” because, as a command, it has not been fulfilled. Therefore it should not be asserted that the fulfillment of what has been commanded is “better” for the individual because he gains something thereby and the non-fulfillment of it contains something bad because he will be “punished” for it. For, what has been commanded does not, thereby, become “more valuable” than the opposite. But even this erroneous argumentation presupposes precisely what it means to dispose of, that is, the acknowledgement that in certain cases values or non-values are present.Google Scholar
- 7.I am inclined to deny this. Cf. the already mentioned article ‘Quelques remarques sur le problème de la relativité de valeurs.’ Now in Erlebnis, Kunstwerk und Wert, Tïibingen, 1969.Google Scholar
- 8.The word “relational” for such values as the utilitarian ones was introduced by Nicolai Hartmann in his Ethik.Google Scholar