A book on ethics and philosophy of values

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4/ Conclusion

If we accept that ethics and axiology are two distinct disciplines, that the question of the foundation of morality is equivalent to the search for the value of morality, and therefore requires a general determination of what has value and what does not, then we are in a position to understand what seems to us to be a fundamental phenomenon: morality must ultimately be founded, as a last resort, on axiology.

As long as axiology has not been established, and has not been able to propose an answer to the question of what has value, we cannot establish whether good has more value than evil, whether morality has value or not, and therefore we cannot found morality.

Traditionally, then, morality has sought to be self-founding, i.e. to be founded on a moral concept (for example, that of moral conscience or moral sentiment such as sympathy, pity, etc.). The last century saw a number of attempts to base morality on disciplines other than these, such as sociology or psychology. As we have seen, these attempts were unsuccessful because they could only uncover the origin of morality, not its foundation.

From what we have been thinking about, it seems that morality is ultimately based on axiology, i.e. that this last, ancestral discipline, ethics, to which so much profound thought has been devoted, is ultimately based on a discipline that does not yet exist, if not in embryo.

To sum up, it can be argued that the neglect of values has led to three essential consequences: the confusion of morality and axiology, the impossibility of axiology to constitute itself as an autonomous and consistent science, and the impossibility of morality to have any foundation whatsoever.

It is remarkable that the discipline that morality has masked and stifled is precisely the one in which its foundation can be found, that is, the one that contains the possibility of the fulfilment of its ultimate project.

Everything points in this direction: founding morality calls on the notion of value, and even relies entirely on this notion. The concept of value then emerges as the fundamental concept that must be used to carry out this undertaking of moral foundation. What does the concept of value mean, and how can it be used to this end? What might axiology, the discipline that studies value, look like? This is the subject of our next reflection.

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