Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

Dictionary of philosophy and psychology including many of the principal conceptions of ethics, logics, aesthetics ... and giving a terminology in English, French, German and Italian, vol. 2 [lead-zwing]
Baldwin, James Mark
to the next stage, that of ‘ Morality ’ or ‘ Sub¬ 
jective Bight.’ See Hegel, Rechtsphilos., 
In trod., § 26 (Dyde’s trans., 32-4). (J.s.) 
Objectivism [for der. see Object] : Ger. 
Objectivismus ; Fr. objectivisme ; Ital. ogget- 
tivismo. (1) The theory which attributes 
objective validity to at least some of our 
ideas, and thus regards the mind as capable 
of attaining real truth. Opposed to scepticism 
and to phenomenalism. 
(2) The theory which tends to neglect the 
mental and spiritual in its theory of reality. 
(3) The theory, in ethics, which conceives 
the aim of morality to he the attainment of an 
objective state (so Külpe, Introd. to Philos., 
§§14 and 30). Cf. Subjectivism. (j.d.) 
‘Objectivity’ is applied both (1) to pro¬ 
ducts or creations, and (2) to thinkers, artists, 
agents, &c., which illustrate objectivism in 
any of these meanings. (j.m.b.) 
Objectivity : see Objectivism. 
Obligation (in law) [Lat. obligare, to 
bind] : Ger. (1) Obligation, Schuldverpflich¬ 
tung, (2) Schuldverschreibung ; Fr. obligation ; 
Ital. obbligazione. (1) A legal duty of one 
person to do something or abstain from doing 
something for the benefit of another. 
It confers or implies a right to service. In 
strictness, it implies an actionable right, 
and thus excludes mere parental obligations 
(Pollock, Jurisprudence, chap. iv. 84). 
(2) A writing expressing such a contractual 
duty, generally under seal. 
1 Obligatio est iuris vinculum quo necessitate 
adstringimur alicuius rei solvendae, secundum 
nostrae civitatis iura’ (Inst. of Just., iii. 14, 
de obligationibus). The constitution of the 
United States forbids any state to pass a law 
impairing the obligation of a contract. A 
charter of a private corporation is a contract 
within the meaning of this provision. 
Literature : Pothiek, Obligations ; Sa- 
vigny, Das Obligationenrecht. (s.e.b.) 
Obligation (moral) : Ger. (sittliche) Ver¬ 
pflichtung ; Fr. obligation (morale) ; Ital. 
obbligazione {morale'), obbligo. That which is 
binding or authoritative in the nature of 
morality. (J.s., j.m.b.) 
The problem of moral obligation may be 
said to be the central and all-inclusive pro¬ 
blem of ethics—the science of the ‘ ought ’ as 
distinguished from the natural sciences or 
sciences of what ‘is.’ Thus Sidgwick says 
that both ethics and politics are ‘ dis¬ 
tinguished from positive sciences by having 
as their special and primary object to deter¬ 
mine what ought to be, and not to ascertain 
what merely is' (Meth. of Eth., 1), since 
‘ the fundamental notion represented by the 
word “ought'’ or “right,”' which is con¬ 
tained expressly or by implication in all ethical 
judgments, is £ essentially different from all 
notions representing facts of physical or psy¬ 
chical experience' (ibid., 27). The notion of 
oughtness or obligatoriness is, on this view, 
‘ ultimate and unanalysable,’ unique, the 
fundamental category of moral judgment; 
and the function of ethics is to determine the 
content of obligation : what we ought to do, 
or what it is reasonable or right to do. The 
notion of obligation implies, further, a conflict 
between rational and non-rational motives. 
‘ In fact, this possible conflict of motives 
seems to be connoted by the term “ dictate ” 
or “imperative”; which describes the relation 
of reason to mere inclinations or non-rational 
impulses by comparing it to the relation be¬ 
tween the will of a superior and the wills of 
his subordinates’ (ibid., 36). 
As a specific ethical problem, or as an 
explicit statement of the ethical problem it¬ 
self, however, the problem of moral obligation 
is one that has arisen in modern times. The 
question of the obligatoriness of certain forms 
of action is closely connected with that of the 
authoritativeness of the law which prescribes 
them. The explicit question, Why ought 
I to do this or that 1 arises with the separa¬ 
tion of the action, in its formal principle, from 
the end, of the ‘ ought ’ from the £ good.’ 
The Greek moralists asked : What is the good 
of this or that action 1—and so ultimately : 
What is the good1? Preoccupied with the 
beauty and attractiveness of the good, and 
tending always more or less to a hedonistic 
interpretation of it, they were not so apt to 
raise the question of its obligatoriness or 
imperativeness : the authoritativeness of the 
good lay in its goodness. Modern moralists, 
on the other hand, have asked : What ought 
I to do, and why ought I to do it 1 What 
are the true laws of conduct, and what is the 
source of these laws and of their validity 1 
‘For the ego-centric point of view is substituted 
the homocentric’ (Fonsgriève, Essai sur le 
libre arbitre, 479); for the teleological point of 
view is substituted the formalistic and the 
juridical. Further, the homocentric point of 
view is also, primarily at least, the altruistic. 
The question is : Why ought I to regard the 
good of others as well as my own, and at the 
expense of my own 1 The problem of moral 
obligation passes into that of social and 
political obligation. 


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