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What are the two ethics that Max Weber thought people were divided between?

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In "Politics as a Vocation," Max Weber posited two types of ethics that should guide any would-be politician: conviction and responsibility. These are important components of political education that lead one into a political vocation. The ethic of conviction (German Gesinnungsethik) was distinct but not fully separable from the ethic of responsibility (Verantwortungsethik).

"Conviction" applied to free will. The person (actor) exercises autonomy of choice regarding the end as well as the means. For each actor, integrity involves consistency and faith, or "constancy": acting always in accordance with their own values and beliefs. A problem arises when achieving the desired end is outside the actor's scope. Often one is limited to the other type of ethic.

"Responsibility" refers to cause and effect as the determinants of meaning. One must anticipate the possible effect of a given action and calculate the impact of its consequences. Such a calculus requires logical analysis of empirical evidence, using an objective stance. If a different consequence is desire, the causal elements must be altered. This is a technical, dispassionate approach. An actor is free to choose a course of action, but the ethical dimension inheres in the bases of the calculation.

In the modern world (for Weber, early 20th-century), hard choices mean that people can rarely combine both types but must choose between them, reducing "choice" to resignation to one of two morally unacceptable alternatives.

For anyone entering the vocation of politics, Weber concluded that the ethic of conviction and the ethic of responsibility were neither absolutes nor opposites. He saw them as complementary, and so both needed to be used in combination.

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