Suomalaisen moraalifilosofian vuosisata

Moral Philosophy in Finland in the 20th Century

There are two main traditions in Finnish ethics in the 20th century: the phenomenological and the analytical. The former, represented by J.E. Salomaa (1891–1960), Erik Ahlman (1892–1952), and Sven Krohn (1903–), flourished especially in the first half of the century. The latter was initiated by Eino Kaila (1890–1958) and Georg Henrik von Wright (1916–). Salomaa and Krohn claim that a phenomenological analysis of moral consciousness yields objective and absolute values. Ahlman rejects both cognitivism and objectivism in his critical intuitionism, which combines elements from phenomenological, existentialist, emotivist, and even postmodern ethics. Kaila does not present a systematic moral theory, although there is a discernible evolutionist strand in his ethical thought, along with emotivist, pragmatic, and logical ones. Von Wright's ethics is based on a logical analysis of morality and moral statements. He has also tried to develop an Aristotelian form of practical rationality for assessing subjective preferences. Yet none of the mentioned philosophers has succeeded in providing a satisfactory moral theory. The mutual disagreements between Finnish philosophers have been mainly meta-ethical, and a general agreement on correct values and moral principles has restrained their public debate over ethical issues until recent decades.

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