This article interprets Sartre's ethical reflections as leading to a negativistic ethics, that is to say an ethics that denies the possibility of conceiving a positive ideal that has to be attained, and therefore limits itself to the criticising of the negative in the existing world as the only way left for ethics. After a brief introduction into negativism, the article sets out the negativism of Being and Nothingness and the metaethical dilemma that the ontological work poses for a conception of a traditional, positive ethics, which Sartre apparently tried to undertake in his Notebooks for an Ethics. Instead of speaking of a failure of Sartre's attempts to found a traditional ethics, the article shows how already in the Notebooks Sartre is on the way to establishing a conception of an ethics that can be called negativistic, and finally how the late Sartre attains, on the basis of the socio-ontological insights of his Critique of Dialectical Reason, a foundation for a genuinely negativistic ethics which he drafted in his 1964 Rome Lectures.
Michelle R. Darnell
This article stresses the importance of one of Sartre's often overlooked novels, The Age of Reason (1945), and the possibility that it should be considered an early attempt by Sartre to answer the questions he raises at the very end of Being and Nothingness (1943). Considered as a preliminary response to Being and Nothingness, this novel provides an opportunity to explore how ethics might be lived, and draws a clear distinction between a theoretical understanding of being-for-itself and living authentically. As such, it is argued that Sartre's fictional writings, especially The Age of Reason, must be taken seriously in Sartre scholarship.
Abdulla Al Sayyari, Fayez Hejaili and Faissal Shaheen
Discussions on bioethical issues within the Saudi society are a relatively new development. However, they have taken increasing importance over the last two decades. This accompanied the massive advances in medical care, the beginning of medical and biological research, the establishment of pharmaceutical companies and the exposure of society to international norms. By and large the driving forces of the need for bioethical discourses are the practical needs arising from these recent developments in our region rather than that being due to theoretical or academic investigation. In this article, we discuss issues related to the interaction between society and medical ethics in Saudi Arabia with particular reference to organ transplantation ethics.
Ecological Ethics of the Evenks and Evens
This article investigates people's relationships to the natural environment, or ecological ethics, in two closely related minority ethnic groups—Evenki and Eveny in Siberia. It is based on the oral histories and the experience of people living "traditionally" on the land, and also those who have settled permanently in villages and towns. The article explains what role nature plays in their lives, the cultural rules of interrelation with it, and their transformations in the contemporary world. Indigenous moral laws have not been able to protect the land and nature from destruction common in wider Russian society. Therefore, appropriate state policy is needed to protect the rights of the minority indigenous peoples of the Russian North for use of natural resources.
In general, the Sartrean concept of the subject as "being-for-self" and "being-for-others" is read as if Sartre had sketched these structures as given "a priori" and therefore as unalterable. One of the consequences of this interpretation lies in calling Sartre's theory contradictory, especially with regard to his ethics, because of the assumption that, based on this concept, changing the inauthentic structures of the subject into authentic ones would be impossible. Contrary to this interpretation, I argue that Sartre's philosophical theory is by no means contradictory, neither in its relation to ethics nor as it relates to the complete edition of Sartre's philosophical writing, if one tries to understand what kind of theoretical requirements Sartre considered to be relevant and necessary. From this point of view, it is possible to work out an adequate and consistent interpretation. In order for me to argue for the immanent consistency of Sartre's theory and for the resulting possibility of an ethical theory based on it, I will discuss some aspects of the relation between epistemological, ontological and ethical elements within Sartre's philosophical system.
Sartrean Ethics in History, 1938–1948 – From Kantian Universalism to Derision
In his quest for an ethics, Sartre went from a universalism of a Kantian type (L’Existentianlisme est un humanisme) to inscribing ethical action in History, that is, in a dialectics of ends and means (Cahiers pour une morale). This dialectics, here studied in the period between 1938 and 1948, also constitutes the subtext of a number of his literary and dramatic works, where it recurs more insistently than in its philosophical developments: Sartre’s first intuition, contingency.
Ethics and an Individual in Contemporary South India
This article explores the intricate relationship between talk and practice in the anthropology of ethics by focusing on one individual, a temple and consecration priest, in Tamil Nadu, South India. By examining his relations with other people, gods and his ideal and present self, the article suggests that ethical self-cultivation is an ongoing practice and is based on ordinary and extraordinary encounters, evaluations and reflections thereon. It argues that the focus on an individual both allows an intimate and detailed reflection on processes of ethical self-cultivation and offers a window into the wider social world of which the individual forms a part.
The Ethics of Vulnerability and Agency in Research with Girls in the Sex Trade
Alexandra Ricard-Guay and Myriam Denov
In this article, we examine the ethical realities that emerged from a qualitative study with adolescent girls on sexual exploitation. We outline and articulate the importance of moving beyond the inclusion of girls’ voices in research to discussing the ethical and practical implications of doing so. We consider the notions of power, victimization, and agency and highlight the ethical dilemma of doing research with girls in the sex trade, particularly in a context in which participants’ narratives are characterized by profound ambivalence, as seen in their frequent oscillation between narratives of victimization on the one hand, and of agency and power on the other. The nexus between girlhood studies and ethics provides us with a valuable opportunity to analyze, and thus highlight, the importance of social context in understanding these adolescent girls’ narratives and self-representations.
Situating and Scaling Intimate Uncertainties in an Adriatic Harbour
This article explores how a specific pattern of relational ethics – referred to as ‘never . . . too much’ – figures as a way of coping with intimate uncertainties in close relationships. The concept of relational ethics refers to the historically embedded ways in which people live and cultivate ethical values through relations and, as such, also represents an ethnographically grounded conceptual contribution to ongoing anthropological debates on moral economy. My research unfolds ethnographic insights into three variations of the relational ethics of ‘never . . . too much’, three respective sets of social actors and relational scales: ‘never feel too much’/local women and their relationship to their marital partner; ‘never own too much’/local men and their relationship to property; ‘never settle too much’/female migrants from Russia and their relationship to the place of settlement. The article’s analysis is developed against the background of a particular spatial and temporal location – a border minority town with a history of (forced) migration, and is a contemporary focal point of migration, marginalisation by the state and patriarchy.
Conversations in South India and the Anthropology of Ethics
This article contributes to the anthropology of ethics through an analysis of conversations among Muslim and Hindu householders in Tamil Nadu, India, about instances of alms/charitable giving where there is no expectation of direct reciprocity and where both giving and taking make reference to religion. I argue, first, that people make certain kinds of giving or taking ethical or unethical through talk and, second, that instances of ‘ethical talk’, which constitute reflections on and evaluations of action, point to questions concerning freedom and choice in people’s efforts to lead lives that are good or ‘good enough’. Such conversations also reveal a striving toward accepted forms of societal attachment and detachment while considering the claims that people can or should make upon each another.