Being-with Ethics: Mitsein and the Possibility of a Hermeneutic Ethics

A special issue of Philosophies (ISSN 2409-9287).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2019) | Viewed by 5547

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Tina Fernandes Botts
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Philosophy, California State University, Fresno, CA 93740-8024, USA
Interests: hermeneutics; legal hermeneutics; philosophy of law; philosophy of race; social epistemology; feminist epistemology; philosophy critical

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

What can we say about an ethics grounded in hermeneutics? Most fundamentally, hermeneutics is concerned with the problems of interpretation and understanding. Historically, hermeneutics was concerned with theories for correctly interpreting and understanding texts. Philosophical hermeneutics is the study of the assumptions and pre-judgments (the fore-structures of understanding) undergirding what we take to be the case about the world, about ourselves, and about others. That is, philosophical hermeneutics is a form of meta-philosophy. Hermeneutic ethics captures the tension often thought to exist between the idea that ethical questions are best answered on a case-by-case basis and the idea that some sort of universal moral truths do indeed exist (and, accordingly should be heeded). From a hermeneutical point of view, ethical questions (like all questions) are situated (that is, bound by the context from which they arise), but at the same time – and to the extent that we are all intimately connected not only with each other but with the world(s) we inhabit in dynamic and irrevocable ways -- an ethics grounded in hermeneutics entails a profound commitment to the welfare of others as well as a way to assess the relative value of different ethical decisions.

In this issue, papers are invited on the topic of an ethics grounded in hermeneutics, broadly construed. Possible questions and issues to be addressed are (1) whether an ethics grounded in hermeneutics is possible, (2) the relationship between what ethics is and what hermeneutics is, (3) how the ethics of key hermeneuticists or hermeneutic philosophers might be compared and contrasted, (4) an exploration of the concept of Mitsein (or Being-with), (5) the role of community in an ethics grounded in hermeneutics, (6) the extent to which hermeneutics, ethics, and philosophy itself are coextensive, (7) the role of intersubjectivity in ethics, (8) the role of tradition in ethics, (9) ethics and hermeneutic dialogue, (10) hermeneutics and the other, (11) the relationship between power dynamics and the possibility of (productive) hermeneutic dialogue, (12) the possibility of hermeneutically correcting for the power dynamics in human dialogue, (13) what a hermeneutically legitimate ethical decision-making process might look like, and (14) any other related topic.

Prof. Dr. Tina Fernandes Botts
Guest Editor

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  • Being-with
  • Mitsein
  • dialogue
  • hermeneutics
  • ethics
  • pre-judgments
  • tradition
  • Being-in-the-world
  • Dasein
  • community
  • meta-philosophy
  • Heidegger
  • Gadamer
  • philosophical hermeneutics
  • forestructures of understanding
  • interpretation
  • understanding

Published Papers (1 paper)

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9 pages, 196 KiB  
Gadamer, Levinas, and the Hermeneutic Ontology of Ethics
Philosophies 2019, 4(3), 48; - 14 Aug 2019
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 4028
Much debate has been held over the question of whether Hans-Georg Gadamer’s hermeneutic approach to ethics and the other can do justice to the alterity of the other, as exemplified in Emmanuel Levinas’s approach to ethics as first philosophy. The challenge to Gadamer [...] Read more.
Much debate has been held over the question of whether Hans-Georg Gadamer’s hermeneutic approach to ethics and the other can do justice to the alterity of the other, as exemplified in Emmanuel Levinas’s approach to ethics as first philosophy. The challenge to Gadamer and to hermeneutics more generally, comes obliquely from Levinas and more directly, from Robert Bernasconi, who argues that Gadamer cannot account for an otherness that ends in incomprehensibility as one finds in encounters between persons of asymmetrical power relations—oppressed and oppressor, privileged and marginalized. Bernasconi’s critique has resulted in a flurry of hermeneutic responses that insist that Gadamer’s hermeneutics can, if understood in the right way, accommodate the other and serve as the foundation for robust ethical treatment of the other. I argue in this paper that participants in this debate have been insufficiently attentive to the ontologies that underlie the accounts of self and other in Gadamer and in Levinas. Because Gadamer and Levinas begin from different ontologies, their accounts of ethics and of the ground of ethics differ. Full article
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