The Economist: Ethics of Conviction vs. Ethics of Responsibility

http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21707959-why-many-germans-think-impractical-idealism-immoral-tale-two-ethics

A bit of political philosophy I was exposed to his morning.  I cannot recall having heard of this before.

Excerpt:  THE phrases “ethic of conviction” and “ethic of responsibility” mean little to most English-speakers. In Germany the equivalent terms—Gesinnungsethik and Verantwortungsethik—are household words . . . [Sociologist Max] Weber described an “abysmal opposition” between two types of ethics. Those following their convictions wish to preserve their own moral purity, no matter what consequences their policies may have in the real world. “If an action of good intent leads to bad results, then, in the actor’s eyes, not he but the world, or the stupidity of other men, or God’s will who made them thus, is responsible for the evil.” By contrast, someone guided by responsibility “takes account of precisely the average deficiencies of people…(H)e does not even have the right to presuppose their goodness and perfection.” This sort of politician will answer for all the consequences of his actions, even unintended ones. Weber left no doubt about his sympathies. Ethicists of conviction, he said, were “in nine out of ten cases windbags”.

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