PHI6374 - The Radical Demand in Logstrup's Ethics

The biblical commandment 'to love your neighbour as yourself' still has great resonance with people, as does the story of the Good Samaritan who helps the injured traveller he encounters on the road. But what exactly does this love require, and what it its basis? Do we have an obligation to care for others, or is it beyond the call of duty? How can love be a matter of obligation at all? If you help the neighbour, can you demand something in return? Should we help them by giving them what they want, or instead what they need? How far do our obligations to others extend - who is the 'neighbour', and might it include 'the enemy' ? And does the requirement to help the other come from God's command, or from some sort of practical inconisistency given we all need help ourselves, or from their right to be helped - or simply from the fact they are in need? But can our needs be enough on their own to generate obligations of this sort? We will consider these sorts of questions in relation to the work of K.E. Logstrup [1905-1981], a Danish philosopher and theologian, who discussed them in his key work The Ethical Demand [1956] in which he characterized this relation between individuals as involving a 'radical demand' for care, involving important commitments about the nature of life, value, and human interdependency. We will compare his ideas to related themes in Kant, Kierkegaard, Levinas, and contemporary care ethics.


Bob Stern

This module is also available to undergraduates as PHI374.

If there are three or more postgraduates taking the module, a separate seminar will be scheduled for postgraduates only.