Analysis Of Weber's Lecture: The Profession And Vocation Of Politics

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The above extract from Weber’s lecture titled ‘The Profession and Vocation of Politics’ is said to be representative of his argument that successful political leaders should adhere to an ethic of responsibility (EOR) rather than an ethic of conviction (EOC) when serving a cause. Within this lecture Weber argued that the two were “Irreconcilably opposed maxims” (Weber, 1994, p359), which has led scholars to interpret Weber’s thesis as a proclamation that a political leader cannot endorse both of the ethical tenets. However I find this to be a misrepresentation of Weber’s thesis. To refute this position I will assert a more nuanced interpretation of Weber’s ethical standpoint, arguing that when Weber asserts the irreconcilability of the two maxims,…show more content…
The second section will evaluate Weber’s critique of the EOC concerning the ideological dogmatism that it precipitates, arguing that despite his opposition Weber does not wholeheartedly contest the idea of an ideologically driven political…show more content…
A key proponent of Weber’s favouring of the EOR over the EOC when serving a cause is his assessment of the meaning human action. For Weber an action is given meaning by its relationship to the empirical world rather than its relationship to the original intention. Meaning the cause that a political leader commits to should be evaluated based on its effect on human society rather than the levels of advancement or sophistication of the cause itself. Evidence for this assertion is shown throughout Weber’s work. For example, in his critique of the Russian Bolsheviks and the German Spartacists Weber questions the morality of conviction orientated political actors, arguing “have we not seen that the Bolshevik and Spartacist ideologies bring about exactly the same results as any militarist dictator? What distinguishes the polemics directed by most exponents of the supposedly new ethics at the opponents they criticise from the polemics of any other demagogues?” (Weber, 1994, p357). As can be seen, Weber is critical of the idea that the presence of supposedly noble intentions on behalf of the

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