Niklas Luhmann‘s Systems Theory as a Challenge for Ethics

Dallmann, Hans-Ulrich
March 1998
Ethical Theory & Moral Practice;Mar1998, Vol. 1 Issue 1, p85
Academic Journal
The author discusses Niklas Luhmann‘s concept of ethics and morals. Therefore he sketches the main traits of Luhmann‘s theory of systems (e.g. the terms autopoiesis, system and environment, code and programme). From the system-theoretical point of view, ethics are characterized as the reflexive theory of morals. Morals are described as the communication of regard or disregard. The author shows which consequences follow from this concept by discussing problems concerning several subsystems at the same time. The problems of Luhmann‘s theory of morals and ethics are demonstrated by analyzing the concepts of risk and responsibility. Finally, the author demands that ethics should be understood even more as social ethics which reflect upon their social foundation in a more consequent way.


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