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Title: The Meaning of the Moral Imperative
Author(s): VERHACK, Ignace
Journal: Ethical Perspectives
Volume: 8    Issue: 4   Date: 2001   
Pages: 232-253
DOI: 10.2143/EP.8.4.503834

Abstract :
My paper is intended as a personal reflection in the margin of an astonishing question raised by William Desmond: “Does my very moral dignity not cut me off from an ethics of agapeic service?” (Ethics and the Between, 366). The thesis the author will defend presents the moral imperative as a mean or middle between two conceptual opposites: egological or merely self-interested self-being on the one hand, and agapeic goodness or love on the other hand. As a middle, the meaning of the moral imperative partakes of both. Negatively, it forbids us to behave in regard to the other and to ourselves as incarnated individual beings as if we were reducible to a kind of thing at our disposal and which could likewise be treated as a means in function of a merely subjective or particular goal, pleasure or interest. Positively, it opens, prepares and paves the way for agapeic goodness or love which transcends the sphere of the moral as such and for which it commands a necessary structural condition in the absence of which agapeic goodness would only be an illusion of goodness and probably only delusive sentiment.

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