ArticlePDF Available

Spinozian consequentialism of ethics of social consequences

Authors:

Abstract

The present article deals with specific normative concepts of Spinoza’s ethical system and compares them to certain aspects of the theory of ethics of social consequences. At first, a way to approach the problem of normativity in Spinoza is presented, concentrating on the obligatory character of rational - or intellectual - motives. Then, theoretical evidence is presented which links Spinoza to normative-ethical consequentialism. The basis for a consequentialist model of Spinoza’s ethics is the concept of perfection, and on this basis it seems possible to consider its compatibility with non-utilitarian forms of consequentialism, such as ethics of social consequences. Conclusively, the paper’s aim is to present the possibility of considering Spinozian consequentialism as a non-utilitarian consequentialism, while considering ethics of social consequences as a contemporary form of Spinozian consequentialism.
A preview of the PDF is not available
... The first relates to the value of life, which deserves respect and appreciation, from which positive social consequences follow, i.e. positive social consequences are the function of human dignity. The other one regards human dignity being a function of positive social consequences following our behaviour and actions, which are to prevail over negative social consequences (Gluchman 2017b;Gluchmanová 2013;Losyk 2014;Petrufová Joppová 2018;Polomská 2018;Sachdev 2015). What is concerned here is the basis for attributing a qualitative, or additional, value of human dignity to a moral agent. ...
Article
Full-text available
Martha C. Nussbaum, in the context of ancient philosophy, formulated ethics of human development based on 10 basic human capabilities (and opportunities) as a precondition of meaningful human development, i.e. the ability to live a dignified human life. The paper, thus, deals with a capabilities approach with the aim of analysing the content of the idea of human dignity in Nussbaum’s understanding and its place in the conception of ethics of human development, since human dignity is the very core of the conception in question.
Article
Full-text available
This paper deals with the possibilities of using the ethical considerations of Baruch Spinoza in a psychotherapeutic context. I begin the interpretation by defining the basic features of Spinoza’s ethics and their connection with the whole of his philosophical system. The core of the study is the interpretation of Spinoza’s theory of affectivity and especially his concept of the transformation of passive affects into active, and what role philosophical knowledge plays in this transformation. The third part of the study then tries to show how selected points of Spinoza’s introduced ideas can be useful for psychotherapeutic work. As much as the connection between philosophical ethics and psychotherapy seems obvious to many non-experts, most professionals on both sides are vehemently opposed to it. I believe that Spinoza’s thinking is an example of how the boundaries of these disciplines can be meaningfully bridged.
Article
Full-text available
In Peter Singer’s article “The Challenge of Brain Death for the Sanctity of Life Ethic”, he articulates that ethics has always played an important role in defining death. He claims that the demand for redefining death spreads rather from new ethical challenges than from a new, scientifically improved understanding of the nature of death. As thorough as his plea for dismissal of the brain-death definition is, he does not avoid the depiction of the complementary relationship between science and ethics. Quite the opposite, he tends to formulate a stronger, philosophically more consistent argument to help science and medical practitioners to define life, death, and the quality of life. In my commentary, I would like to focus on two issues presented in Singer’s study. Firstly, I will critically analyze the relationship between science and ethics. Secondly, I will follow on from Singer’s arguments differentiating between end of life as an organism and end of life as a person. The latter case is necessarily linked with man’s participation in her/his life, setting life goals, and fulfilling her/his idea of good life. Through the consequential definition of the dignity in ethics of social consequences, I will try to support Singer’s idea.
Article
Full-text available
G. E. Moore’s critical analysis of right action in utilitarian ethics and his consequentialist concept of right action is a starting point for a theory of moral/right action in ethics of social consequences. The terms right and wrong have different meanings in these theories. The author explores different aspects of right and wrong actions in ethics of social consequences and compares them with Moore’s ideas. He positively evaluates Moore’s contributions to the development his theory of moral/right action.
Article
Full-text available
I attempt to solve the apparent inconsistency between expressivism and cognitivism in Spinoza’s metaethics by appealing to Spinoza’s naturalistic approach. According to Spinoza, good and evil are neither properties of the world, nor entities independent of individual appetite. It is the very activity of one’s conatus that defines as good and evil certain events. But, insofar as each conative state has a correspondent cognitive state, each evaluative judgment is both an expression of one’s conatus and a cognitive statement. Spinoza can be both expressivist and cognitivist because the reality of moral facts depends on one’s conatus, but these moral facts can, nevertheless, be either adequate and true, or inadequate and false.
Article
Spinoza presents his ethics using a variety of terminologies. Propositions that are, or at least might be taken for, normative include only very few explicit guidelines for action. I will take this claim from Vp10s to be one such guideline: Vp10s: So that we may always have this rule of reason ready when it is needed, we should think and meditate often about common human wrongs and how and in what way they may best be driven away by nobility. There are, however, several different kinds of claims, which are also much more numerous, that might be thought to imply such guidelines. These include a number of descriptions of what is useful to us, for example, IVp40, or what is good, for example, IVp39: IVp40: Things that lead to the general association of men, or that cause men to live harmoniously, are useful. IVp39: Things that cause the conservation of the ratio of motion and rest that the human body's parts have to one another are good. Another group of propositions, which includes IVp26, describes the demands of reason or what we do, strive to do, or ought to do if we are guided by reason. Sometimes, as at IVp53, Spinoza presents these claims as equivalent to claims about virtue: IVp26: What we strive for from reason is nothing other than to understand; nor does the mind, insofar as it uses reason, judge anything to be useful to it other than what leads to understanding. IVp53: Humility is not a virtue, or, it does not arise from reason. Spinoza, though, in some places offers different advice for those who are not virtuous and are not guided by reason. Indeed in a scholium to the very next proposition he offers a qualified recommendation of the same affect that he has just argued is not a part of virtue: IVp54s: Because men rarely live from the dictate of reason, these two affects, that is, humility and repentance, and also hope and fear, bring more profit than loss; and so, since men must sin, it is better for them to sin in this direction. Finally, Spinoza includes near the end of Part IV of the Ethics several propositions about the free man, his character, and his actions. IVp72 is one of these propositions that has attracted attention: IVp72: A free man never acts deceitfully, but always honestly. My purpose here is to outline a general way of understanding these different kinds of claims. I shall first present, briefly, two points about Spinoza's moral psychology that affect his understanding of the human condition and how it may be improved. Then I shall argue, on the basis of these points, that Spinoza's many different propositions offer, effectively, three different kinds of guidelines for action: The most important general point of this typology will be that many of Spinoza's normative claims are not the direct guidelines for action that they may appear to be. Some claims about what is good, and all of Spinoza's claims about what is better for people who are irrational, are not equivalent to unqualified prescriptions requiring the pursuit of the concerned end because the ends described in these claims do not benefit any agent in any circumstances. Many other norms for the rational, which, like IVp39 and IVp40, do describe ends that would benefit any agent in any circumstance, may not be equivalent to unqualified prescriptions for either of two reasons. It may be that there are some sets of circumstances in which it would be best to pursue a different, better end rather than a given good...
Chapter
In this paper, Yitzhak Melamed argues that Spinoza was the most radical anti-humanist among modern philosophers. Spinoza rejects any notion of human dignity. He conceives of God’s—and not man’s—point of view as the only objective perspective through which one can know things adequately, and it is at least highly questionable whether he allows for any genuine notions of human autonomy or morality.
Ethics of social consequences as a contemporary consequentialist theory
  • J Kalajtzidis
KALAJTZIDIS, J. (2013): Ethics of social consequences as a contemporary consequentialist theory. In: Ethics & Bioethics (in Central Europe), 3(3-4), pp. 159-171.