Doing Unto Others: A Phenomenological Search for the Ground of Ethics

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Can we find a phenomenological basis for the ethical 'ought'? This essay addresses this question through a reflection on Husserl's fifth Meditation. In the fifth Meditation Husserl endeavors to show the manner in which I constitute the other through an associative pairing of the other with my own subjectivity. This essay argues that this same associative pairing forces me to acknowledge the other as a person of intrinsic worth insofar as I recognize myself as one. Having acknowledged the intrinsic worth of the other in this way, I cannot but acknowledge my obligation to treat the other as I would like to be treated. Thus, the ethical imperative, in the form of the Golden Rule, proves to be implicated in the very constitution of the other in his or her otherness.
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First archival date: 2018-03-09
Latest version: 5 (2018-10-27)
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