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Questions about Ruwen Ogien's Minimal Ethics & this website

Ruwen Ogien’s Minimal Ethics

How does Minimal Ethics defines ethics in general ?

Ethics is about how indivual freedoms can coexist, and what a fair social cooperation can look like. It has to do with relationships between persons which are ruled neither by force nor threat.

Answering « deep » or « existential » questions isn’t a part of ethics. Ethics’s mission isn’t to shape every aspect of our life by telling us what to do.

Source: L’éthique aujourd’hui, Ch. 4, p. 80 & Conclusion, p. 197

Are each of our actions either moral or immoral ?

No. That’s not the spirit. In Minimal Ethics, an action either breaks a moral principle, or it has nothing to do with ethics. If you break one of the moral principles stated by Ogien, you do something immoral. If you don’t break any principle, what you’re doing isn’t « moral », it’s just not moral related.


Are some actions « morally good » ?

No. Minimal Ethics only demands that we do no harm and that we do not break the equal consideration principle. There are no « morally good » actions that we should do, like giving money to the poors or helping our neighbours.

Source: « Mon dîner chez les cannibales » in Mon dîner chez les cannibales, p. 90-91 [permalien]

Can a theory be more minimal than the Minimal Ethics ?

Yes and no.

Yes. A theory that would stick to the harm principle alone would be more minimal : it would have less principles.

No. Minimal Ethics confines ethics to relation to others. It’s hard to do less. But you can do more, for instance if you claim that the relation of one to himself has a moral relevance.

Yes and no (at the same time). If you extend ethics to one’s relation to himself AND only admit the harm principle, you’re both less minimal (you extend ethics to oneself) and more minimal than Ogien (you reject his other principles). [permalien]

This website

You don’t provide Ogien’s reasonings. Why ?

The website is an introduction to Ruwen Ogien’s books. They’re fun. You should read them. My point isn’t to rephrase them badly. [permalien]

Is there a bibliography ?

Yes there is ! It’s on this page. In French. I know. [permalien]

What do I miss by not reading this site in French ?

Not much, it’s way funnier in English.

More seriously, most of the content won’t be translated. This includes : a detailed explanation of each principle, some dull pages (Bibliography, Ogien’s quotations on animals, etc.), an extended version of this F.A.Q, and deeper criticisms of Ogien’s ethics. If in despair, use an automatic translator.


Who made this ?

Some French speaking guy, obviously.

I’m Guillaume Gallais, an ex-philosophy student in France. I’ve been reading Ruwen Ogien’s works since 2003. I had the chance to meet him (once) and to access pre-print versions of his masterwork L’éthique aujourd’hui (Ethics nowadays - not translated as far as I know). [permalien]