Pozytywiści polscy o przedmiocie etyki


The article offers a reconstruction of the views of the Polish positivists on the scope of ethics and its subject-matter. In their view, supported by the empiricists’ distrust of the a priori knowledge, all forms of philosophical ethics known up to their times had been practically invalid. But they also believed that it was possible to devise a new model of ethics. In its new form ethics should have had a scientific character, and should have been based on empirical research and on analysis of the facts observed in the moral life of the society. This point of view naturally led to the question whether the scientific character of ethics had to purely consist in limiting its scope to descriptive issues, or whether ethics could be a discipline which was at the same time descriptive and normative and yet possessed a scientific character. This problem of the proper scope of the scientific ethics was one of the principal questions studied by the positivists interested in the theory of morals. Some solutions to this query were offered by the Polish representatives of positivism: Swiętochowski, Bogacki and Ochorowicz. Świętochowski outlined a model of theoretical ethics which was mainly preoccupied with analysis of moral facts. Ochorowicz was the author of a scientific ethics which consisted of ethology, a discipline describing facts and proposing norms, and ethoplastics – a technology of putting these norms into practice. A struggle for a non-religious character of ethics was one of the most prominent elements of the positivists’ views. Their attempts were directed at limitation of the influence of religion on ethics. The article discusses results of these efforts. The positivists endeavoured to create a new discipline governed by scientific principles and independent of theological influences. The main proponents of the so conceived independent ethics were: Swiętochowski, Kozłowski and Ochorowicz.