The purpose of this Independent Study is to advance an ethical theory that focuses on a modification of one’s epistemic foundation rather than a code of action. In the introduction I state a problem given by G.E.M. Anscombe in “Modern Moral Theories” about the way recent ethics has formulated their doctrines. I conclude with Anscombe that to create a proper ethics, one must set out to create a philosophy of psychology.

In the first chapter I discuss, in detail, the philosophical position of Sartre in Being and Nothingness. The ontological study reveals the ambiguity of the human condition as well as the true characteristic of values. I conclude that consciousness is necessarily free, and thus cannot be tied down to any attributive qualities.

The second chapter considers the conclusions of chapter one and draws further implications on the dynamic of action as well as human authenticity. What is concluded is that agent’s – given their ambiguous condition – naturally try to suppress or eliminate this ambiguity by assuming a purely external or purely internal conception of values. This suppression is called ‘bad faith’ and is inauthentic. Instead, to be authentic an agent must recognize and respect the inherent freedom of himself and the freedom of others.

In the last chapter I tie all of the concepts together and fulfill Anscombe’s requirement by stating a philosophy of psychology. Subsequently, I assert that an ethics of being is superior to an ethics of doing because of the way in which a ‘conversion’ to good faith changes the agent.


Rudisill, John




Epistemology | Ethics and Political Philosophy | Other Philosophy


Sartre, Being and Nothingness, Ethics

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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