RELATION BETWEEN SOCIOLOGY AND ETHICS 685
Among the remarks put forth here, there is one which I regard as a most important one. It is the question of ethics as a science. It came from the chairman in this form : " Is ethics philosophy or science ? " It was emphasized in Dr. Westermarck's remarks. He would conceive ethics only as a depart- ment of sociology. I have not in my paper given my whole conception of ethical principles, or a scientific foundation for them. We have no one ethical system to which we can refer and say: "This is true ethics," or, " Those acts are not ethical." We have no science of ethics in the same sense as we have a science of mathematics or physics. There are still discussions going on as to how we come to the first principles in ethics. Dr. Westermarck said that all science is about facts, about something which exists and which we try to describe and explain ; but I cannot see that there should be anything unscientific in an essay to develop the sequences of certain ideals, or aims, or motives, when these ideals, or aims, or motives are psychological and historical realities. That there are different ideals and aims at work is a difficulty, not only for my view, but also for Dr. Westermarck's. I should think that Dr. Westermarck would find himself in some difficulty if he says : " This is a moral consciousness." There are many moral consciousnesses at different and at the same time. In our own time there are very different and opposing moral consciousnesses. We have an example in the differences between Tolstoi and his antagonists. Can a sociologist take one single form, one special determined form, and say that this is the true moral consciousness? Here the problem conies again. It is not to be put aside, and on this point there will always be a certain independence for ethics.
One of the speakers raised a question about teleology, which, so far as I understood it, was this : How can we say that the ideological point of view has another importance in ethics than in sociology? I touched on the point in my paper, because it is a way of casting light on the relation between soci- ology and ethics. Sociology is a science which only describes and explains facts. It ought, therefore, to follow the same methods as natural science, and sociology, as such, cannot know anything about aims, and ends, and ideals. If a sociologist makes use of an end, or an aim, he does so only methodologically. If the biologist supposes that there are certain aims which an organism shall serve, that is a method for scientific study; but biology cannot tell us why organisms are in the world. In ethics we begin with aims and ends as psy- chological realities. There are aims after which we are striving; and if in their pursuit we attain a certain knowledge of means and ways, we cannot, without contradicting ourselves, abstain from following the rules of action in doing, thinking, and feeling, which are consequences of this knowledge. Socrates, the founder of ethics, applied this method.