The Imperative of Responsibility: In Search of an Ethics for the Technological Age

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University of Chicago Press, Oct 15, 1985 - Philosophy - 255 pages
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Hans Jonas here rethinks the foundations of ethics in light of the awesome transformations wrought by modern technology: the threat of nuclear war, ecological ravage, genetic engineering, and the like. Though informed by a deep reverence for human life, Jonas's ethics is grounded not in religion but in metaphysics, in a secular doctrine that makes explicit man's duties toward himself, his posterity, and the environment. Jonas offers an assessment of practical goals under present circumstances, ending with a critique of modern utopianism.
 

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Contents

The Altered Nature of Human Action
3
I The Example of Antiquity
4
II Characteristics of Previous Ethics
6
III New Dimensions of Responsibility
8
IV Technology as the Calling of Mankind
11
V Old and New Imperatives
12
VI Earlier Forms of Futureoriented Ethics
14
VII Man as an Object of Technology
19
Parent and Statesman as Eminent Paradigms
100
The Horizon of the Future
110
V How Far Does Political Responsibility Extend into the Future?
119
VI Why Responsibility Was Not Central in Former Ethical Theory
125
The Archetype of Responsibility
132
Responsibility Today Endangered Future and the Idea of Progress
138
II The Ominous Side of the Baconian Ideal
142
III Is Marxism or Capitalism Better Fitted to Counter the Danger?
144

VIII The Utopian Dynamics of Technical Progress and the Excessive Magnitude of Responsibility
23
IX The Ethical Vacuum
24
On Principles and Method
27
II Prevalence of the Bad over the Good Prognosis
33
III The Element of Wager in Human Action
36
IV The Duty to Ensure a Future
40
V Being and OughttoBe
48
Concerning Ends and Their Status in Reality
53
I The Hammer
54
II The Court of Law
55
III Walking
58
IV The Digestive Organ
67
From the Problem of Purpose to the Problem of Value
77
The Good the Ought and Being A Theory of Responsibility
81
First Distinctions
92
IV Examining the Abstract Chances in the Concrete
153
V The Utopia of the Coining True Man
159
VI Utopia and the Idea of Progress
162
A Critique of Utopia and the Ethic of Responsibility
180
I The Wretched of the Earth and World Revolution
182
II Critique of Marxist Utopianism
188
III From the Critique of Utopia to the Ethics of Responsibility
203
Impotence or Power of Subjectivity
207
I The Incompatibility Argument
209
II The Epiphenomenaiist Argument
211
III Epiphenomenalism Voided by the Voiding of Incompatibility
218
IV QuantumMechanical Review of the Proposed Solution
224
Notes
235
Index
249
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Page 2 - Language, and thought like the wind and the feelings that make the town, he has taught himself, and shelter against the cold, refuge from rain. He can always help himself. He faces no future helpless. There's only death that he cannot find an escape from.

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About the author (1985)

Hans Jonas was the Alvin Johnson Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at the New School for Social Research. Among his many books are The Phenomenon of Life and Philosophical Essays, both published by the University of Chicago Press.

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