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Roczniki Filozoficzne

Volume 11, Issue 2, 1963

Tadeusz Styczeń
Pages 87-109

The Possibility of Scientific Ethics in the Work of John Locke

In this article the author undertakes a critical appreciation of the principles of John Locke's assertion that ethics is a science. Locke's concepts of „ethics" and „science" have been therefore analysed. As a result of this analysis are obtained on one hand a pattern of a scientific sentence, on the other types of sentences characteristic of Locke's ethics. A sentence is scientific, according to that pattern, when it is both general, necessary and real. Among the specific sentences of Locke's ethics one may point again to two types: sentences of conformity or unconformity of patterns of behaviour and sentences appreciating morally human proceedings. The analysis of these epistemological elements and their mutual comparison leads to the conclusion that neither the first nor the second type of sentence fulfill the conditions defined by the pattern of the scientific sentence: the first owing to lack of reality, the second owing to lack of necessity. The assertion that an ethical sentence is a scientific one and the equivalent assertion that ethics is a science proves to be logically contradictory in Locke's philosophical system. The author proves also that the source of the failure of Locke's enterprise — the scientification of ethics — is the methodological empirism at the basis of his epistemology. The author then attempts to generalise this conclusion,

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