In Memoriam Paul Ricoeur (1913 – 2005)

This article presents a global survey of Paul Ricœur’s work which, beyond the diversity of the treated questions and matters, has in fact a deep unity. Having adopted an hermeneutic process which leads him to defend a theory of the narrative identity giving the concept of person of the French Personalists a philosophic foundation, Paul Ricœur proposes a coherent social philosophy which transcends the trationnal opposition between liberalism and socialism.

The Moral Theory of Condillac: A Path toward Utilitarianism

Contrary to those of his brother, Mably, Condillac’s thoughts on morality are not considered to be among his most successful undertakings. Right from the beginning of the Age of Enlightenment until the present day, none of the great scholars who studied or continue to study his philosophical works have paid much attention to the author’s thoughts on this matter. It took two recent PhD theses to question this point. However, these two studies of Condillac’s ideas on morality diverge somewhat. The first focuses mainly on his Essai sur l’origine des connaissances humaines (1746) and concludes that Condillac had a specific ethical morality. The second interpretation, which bases itself on the role of one’s needs and one’s “estimation of pleasure and pain,” tries to fit Condillac’s notion of morality into a more utilitarian perspective. Clearly based on this last perspective, the first objective of this article is to present how the principles of human association (the “state of nature” and the “contract”) and morality are linked in Condillac’s works and how both result from man’s need for self-preservation. We shall then see how Condillac proposes a true “moral calculation” which leads individuals to act in a virtuous manner, their sole objective being to satisfy their self-interest. We will conclude by situating this moral theory halfway between Jean-Jacques Burlamaqui’s conceptions and those of the French utilitarians of the second half of the 18th century, bearing in mind that Condillac’s ideas, when compared with the ideas of natural law theorists, constitute a step forward toward a consequentialist moral theory.