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Money-Kyrle, R.E. (1944). Some Aspects of Political Ethics from the Psycho-Analytical Point of View. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 25:166-170.

(1944). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 25:166-170

Some Aspects of Political Ethics from the Psycho-Analytical Point of View

R. E. Money-Kyrle


Ideological Disputes

(1) The political decisions which individuals and societies are called upon to make fall roughly into two groups: those concerned with the choice between different means to an agreed and well-defined end, and those concerned with the choice between different ends or ideologies. If, for example, the highest standard of material comfort is our end, we must decide whether this can be best achieved by state production or by private enterprise or by some mixture of the two. Economics may not yet have provided us with sufficient data to make a reliable decision, but we have no doubt that it will do so in time. Problems of this kind, therefore, come within the scope of empirical science, and are, at least theoretically, soluble by empirical means. But when we have to choose between the different ends of material comfort and the dominance of our race, or between equality and freedom, we seem to be faced with an entirely different type of problem. We may have no doubt about our chice. But how are we to construct an argument to prove that we are right?

(2) We may of course say that the only ultimate ends are given us by nature, and that what we call political ends are really only means, of varying degrees of adequacy, to the satisfaction of our instincts. But consciously these ideologies are ends in themselves. We do not choose them because we consciously believe them to be adequate means to the satisfaction of our instincts, but because we feel them to be right.

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