Existential Humanism and Moral Freedom in Simone de Beauvoir's Ethics

In Tove Pettersen Annlaug Bjørsnøs (ed.), Simone de Beauvoir – A Humanist Thinker. Brill/Rodopi. pp. 69-91 (2015)
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In "Existential Humanism and Moral Freedom in Simone de Beauvoir's Ethics" Tove Pettersen elucidates the close connection between Beauvoir’s ethics and humanism, and argues that her humanism is an existential humanism. Beauvoir’s concept of freedom is inspected, followed by a discussion of her reasons for making moral freedom the leading normative value, and her claim that we must act for humanity. In Beauvoir’s ethics, freedom is not reserved for the elite, but understood as everyone being “able to surpass the given toward an open future.” By addressing the continuing friction between individual freedom and public interests, Beauvoir’s normative thinking remains highly relevant today. It also exemplifies the enduring importance of humanistic reflections and demonstrates how, through critical and creative thinking, the humanities can contribute to a free, well-functioning democratic society.

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Tove Pettersen
University of Oslo


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