On the political aspects of Agnes Heller’s ethical thinking

Human Affairs 30 (1):60-71 (2020)
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Abstract

The author describes Heller’s concept of ethics as a “quasi-sphere” intersecting with various fields relating to human relationships. Special attention is paid to the axiological aspects of her concept of ethics and the relationship between virtues and responsibility. The author also seeks to show how Heller integrated a traditional philosophical question—the relationship between “is” and “ought to be”—into her concept of “radical philosophy” at an earlier stage in the development of her philosophy. She initially considered the relationship between “is” and “ought to be” to be contrasting. Later, when she had come to accept the political model of liberal capitalist society, the ideal of all-compassing equality became the ideal of “equality of opportunities”. The author interprets this shift as one in which the relationship becomes continual. He is also critical of Heller’s underestimation of the effect the “social a priori” has on the possibilities of human life.

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