The Ethical Demand

ISBN : 9780198855989

K. E. Logstrup; Bjorn Rabjerg; Robert Stern
288 Pages
153 x 234 mm
Pub date
Mar 2020
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The Ethical Demand (1956) by K. E. Logstrup is one of the great works of modern moral philosophy: it is presented here in a new translation with introduction and notes. Logstrup puts forward his distinctive view concerning our vulnerability to each other and what this requires of us in response. He starts by considering Jesus's 'proclamation' to love your neighbour and how this can be understood in 'purely human terms' as relating to basic features of our existence. Reflecting on the phenomenon of trust, Logstrup emphasizes the fundamental interdependence of human life and how this gives rise to an 'ethical demand' on us to care for the other, which he characterizes as radical, silent, one-sided, and unfulfillable. In order to make sense of a demand of this sort, Logstrup argues, we must see 'life as a gift', rather than treating ourselves as the sovereign grounds for our own existence. He contrasts this demand to social norms, which are often reciprocal in this way, and argues that while such norms are changeable, the ethical demand itself is absolute. Logstrup therefore makes a fundamental contribution to our understanding of the nature of-and basis for-our obligations to each other. In this critical edition, Logstrup's original text is accurately rendered into readable English and paired with an introduction which explains the main themes and wider context of the work.


Translators' preface

A chronology of Logstrup's life

Bjorn Rabjerg and Robert Stern: Introduction

The Ethical Demand


1 The Fact From Which the Silent Demand Arises

2 Mediation

3 The Radicality of the Demand and the Social Norms

4 The Changeability of the Social Norms

5 Is There a Christian Ethics?

6 Antagonism Towards the One-Sided Demand

7 Is the Radical Demand Destructive on Account of its Radical Character?

8 Making Compromises with the Demand

9 The Ethical Decision

10 Science and Ethics

11 Poetry and Ethics

12 The Unfulfillability of the Demand and the Proclamation Of Jesus

13 Polemical Epilogue

Editors' notes

Select bibliography

About the author: 

Bjorn Rabjerg is Assistant Professor of Ethics and Philosophy of Religion at Aarhus University. He holds a PhD in Systematic Theology and an MA in Philosophy. He has worked extensively on Logstrup since 2004 and in 2013 became Head of the Logstrup Archive at Aarhus University. His most recent publications have been on Logstrup, Kierkegaard, Luther, and Knausgard.; Robert Stern is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Sheffield, where he has worked since 1989. He was previously a student and then Junior Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge. He has published extensively on Kant, Hegel, and transcendental arguments, as well as on accounts of moral obligation. He recently published the first academic monograph in English on Logstrup, entitled The Radical Demand in Logstrup's Ethics (Oxford 2019).

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