The paper is a draft of an answer to the question: Why did Tadeusz Kotarbinski's autonomous ethics, whose normative claims are close to the ideals of Christian mercy, become so popular and so widely discussed in Poland in the second half of the 20th century? The discussions concerned the essence and the degree of the autonomy of ethics in relation to other branches of philosophy and to the humanities. Other topics discussed included the interpretation of the ideal of the reliable guardian and his defining moral attitude called practical realism. The methodological problems of the autonomy of ethics were discussed by philosophers of the Christian orientation associated with the Catholic University of Lublin. These scholars were interested in the question of how ethics can become independent form any worldview. Although philosophers associated with the Lvov-Warsaw school supported Kotarbinski's ethics, they also made serious criticisms. Maria Ossowska voiced epistemological objections; Tadeusz Czezowski took Kotarbinski's side but he presented a more carefully formulated idea of empirical ethics and tried to show that such ethics can be an axiomatic-deductive rather than an inductive theory. Ija Lazari-Pawlowska and Marian Przelecki presented their approval for Kotarbinski's idea of an intuitionist foundation of ethics. The program of universal ethics, independent from any worldview and religious controversies, seems to have influenced also Marek Fritzhand's interpretation of Marxist ethics and corresponded with the attempts to build an ethics of dialog and responsibility.
R. Wisniewski, Uniwersytet Mikolaja Kopernika w Toruniu, Instytut Filozofii, ul. Fosa Staromiejska 1a, 87-100 Torun, Poland
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