Autonomous Ethics

Autonomous Ethics


a moral system based on the concept of the independence of moral principles and demands from any conditions, interests, and goals external to morality as such.

Autonomous ethics was developed in The Critique of Pure Reason (1788) by Kant, who opposed it to the ethical theory of the French Enlightenment. Kant tried to establish the independence of personal conscience, which formulates moral laws for all of mankind, not under external constraint but according to internal conviction; he attempted to explain the specific nature of moral precepts as distinguished from simple expediency and the command of social authorities. However, the complete isolation of moral laws from social practice led Kant to a priority, to the thought that it is only possible to postulate these laws but not to prove them, and then to formalism—that is, to the impossibility of defining the concrete content of moral needs. This postulation of the problem was later accepted by neo-Kantians, as well as by intuitivists, existentialists, and dialectical theologians, who juxtaposed moral laws to the laws of being and of social reality. Marxist ethics explains the specific character of morality and the independence of personal conscience by the unique way in which social laws are reflected in moral consciousness.


Lange, N. Istoriia nravstvennykh idei XIX v. St. Petersburg, 1888. Chapter 1.
Mirtov, D. Nravstvennaia avtonomiia po Kantu i Nitsshe. St. Petersburg, [1905].
Drobnitskii, O. G., and T. A. Kuz’mina. Kritika sovremennykh burzhuaznykh eticheskikh kontseptsii. Moscow, 1967. Pages 33–66, 77–82, 100–41, 184–218, 240–53, 271–306, 337–48.

O. G. DROBNITSKII [1—465–1]

References in periodicals archive ?
The issues addressed in the encyclical include, among others, the biblical foundation of Christian morality, the criticism of autonomous ethics, relativism, teleology, and proportionalism.
Finally, he comments on the well-known debate between autonomous ethics and faith ethics, exemplified by Josef Fuchs and Philippe Delhaye.
A good, implicated in co autonomous ethics, is the affiliation, or wilfulness towards a wrong that drives the possibility for the articulation of difference--a possibility that may be materialized or rendered sensible.
In their contention that these other-centred desires provide the basis of an autonomous ethics, the Wallachs seem to have found solid ground, but such an ethics is not entirely autonomous.
He considered this to be a reversal of the "Greek" philosophical tradition that tyrannizes the Other, ignores the singularity of persons, and overvalues autonomous ethics.
Yet to base one's moral theory on this kind of account of self-governance does not necessarily make one an advocate of autonomous ethics.
An autonomous ethics requires a critical philosophy.
In the first part of the text, I shall point out that some of the very arguments that are needed in order to build up the theist position on the heteronomy of ethics can be used to show that an autonomous ethics can be coherently constructed.
Hence, a philosophically autonomous ethics is impossible.
In the 1970s when European moralists were debating between an autonomous ethics and an ethics of faith, a debate differentiated largely by ideological concerns, Bockle talked about a "theonomic autonomy.
God talk and its relevance for moral theology have often been sidetracked by a debate between the so-called autonomous ethics and an ethics of faith.
We are surprised, however, by an emerging consensus: the moral theology coming out of Western Europe is basically continuing on the original agenda established by those who promoted an autonomous ethics in the context of faith, but with one important modification.

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