Max Weber and the Moral Dimensions of Politics as a Vocation

Title: Max Weber and the Moral Dimensions of Politics as a Vocation
Authors: Brassard, Geneviève
Date: 2012
Abstract: Weber’s discussion of ethics in his famous lecture (and then essay) Politics as a Vocation (1919) clearly indicates that two possible ethical stances, the ethic of conviction and the ethic of responsibility, are rooted in ‘distinct and irreconcilably opposed principles’. Throughout Politics as a Vocation, it is the ethic of responsibility that appears to be endorsed by Weber as suited for political life. Yet, Weber concludes his essay by claiming that a combined ethic is ideal for a political vocation. This makes Weber’s position regarding the ideal ethical stance for a man who has a ‘true political calling’ appear contradictory: the ethics are opposites but somehow to be combined. Commentators have mostly concluded that, for Weber, the ethic of responsibility is the ideal ethic for politics. That appears further in accord with the fact that a key concern of the speech in its historical context was to warn political students of the dangers associated with an ethic of conviction. Weber, as a realist, was especially critical of a stance that disregarded the corrupted nature of the world, which the ethic of responsibility alone seems to accept. Politicians with single-minded convictions were responsible for Germany’s political stalemate, supporting the fact that the ethic of conviction should not be deemed acceptable in politics. And yet there is much this position neglects by opting for only one of the two ethics, by concluding that only the ethic of responsibility is appropriate for political vocation. My thesis offers something different; something I admit is ambitious. What I propose is the synthesis of the opposition, of finding a way to combine the two irreconcilably opposed ethics.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -