- Copyright Page
- About the Editors
- Abbreviated Titles for Max Weber’s Texts
- Chronology of Max Weber’s Life
- Max Weber Past, Present, and Future
- Economics and Society and the Fate of Liberal Capitalism
- Max Weber’s Analysis of Capitalism
- Money, Credit, and Finance in Capitalism
- Law and the Development of Capitalism
- Is There a Future for Bourgeois Liberalism?
- Contemporary Capitalism and the Distribution of Power in Society
- Weberian Social Theory: Rationalization in a Globalized World
- Democracy, Partisanship, and Civil Society
- Nation, Nation-State, and Nationalism
- The Weberian City, Civil Society, and Turkish Social Thought
- The Modern State and Its Monopoly on Violence
- The Relevance of Weber’s Conception and Typology of Herrschaft
- The Supranational Dimension in Max Weber’s Vision of Politics
- Plebiscitary Politics and the Threats to Legality: Some Classical Insights on a Current Phenomenon
- Politics and Ethics, and the Ethic of Politics
- Max Weber’s Ethics for the Modern World
- Max Weber and the Late Modernization of Catholicism
- The “Disenchantment of the World” or Why We Can No Longer Use the Formula as Max Weber Might Have Intended
- The Literati and the Dao: Vernacular and Nation in China
- Class, Caste, and Social Stratification in India: Weberian Legacy
- Including Islam
- The Study on Ancient Israel and Its Relevance for Contemporary Politics
- The Rationalizations of Culture and Their Directions
- Max Weber and the Sociology of Music
- Contemporary Life Conduct and Existential Cultures
- From Occidental Rationalism to Multiple Modernities
- Max Weber and the Idea of the Occident
- Intellectuals, Scholars, and the Value of Science
- The Iron Cage in the Information Age: Bureaucracy as Tangible Manifestation of a Deep Societal Phenomenon
- Causation, Value Judgments, Verstehen
- Realism and Reality in Max Weber
Abstract and Keywords
This chapter first examines Max Weber’s views on the relationship between ethics and politics. Weber maintained that there is an ineradicable conflict between the ultimate value spheres, each of which has its own inherent logic; consequently, he rejected the idea that politics could build on ethical foundations. Moreover, he pointed to an essential conflict within the sphere of politics between two radically different “ethics”: the ethic of conviction and the ethic of responsibility. A person acting according to the ethic of conviction judges his or her action solely by its intrinsic value, regardless of consequences, and takes no responsibility for those consequences; a person acting in accordance with the ethic of responsibility will not only take those consequences into account but also feel that he or she must accept responsibility for them. Although Weber’s formulations often seem to indicate his personal preference for the ethic of responsibility, it should be noted that he explicitly states that the true vocation of politics presupposes both responsibility and conviction on the part of the politician. This account of Weber’s views is followed, first, by an analysis of contemporary usage of the terms “ethic of conviction” and “ethic of responsibility” and, second, by a discussion of the relevance of Weber’s argument today, on the basis of five concrete cases. The conclusion of these discussions is that Weber’s analysis of the relationship between ethics and politics, and of the ethic of politics, remains as relevant as ever.
Hans Henrik Bruun is adjunct professor at the Department of Sociology, University of Copenhagen. His Science, Values and Politics in Max Weber’s Methodology (1972, new edition 2010) remains a standard reference work on Weber’s methodology. He was translator and co-editor of Max Weber: Collected Methodological Writings (2012) and recently published the first complete Danish translation of Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.
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