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Weber, Max

  1. Frederick Bird

Published Online: 1 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444367072.wbiee375

The International Encyclopedia of Ethics

How to Cite

Bird, F. 2013. Weber, Max. The International Encyclopedia of Ethics. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 FEB 2013


The German scholar Max Weber (1864–1920), educated in history, law, and economics, was one of the founders of modern sociology. He also wrote extensively about ethics, both with regard to explicit codes and principles and with regard to the character of cultural milieu. His most famous work, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, analyzed the relations between a religious ethic, what he referred to as the “practical ethic of ascetic Protestantism,” and a modern economic ethic, which he characterized using the phrase “spirit of capitalism.” He undertook studies as well of Confucian, Daoist, Hindu, Buddhist, and ancient Jewish ethics. In addition, he discussed ethics in several of his methodological essays. Finally, he ended his essay on “Politics as Vocation” by contrasting an ethics of conviction with an ethics of responsibility. Overall, his writings about ethics assumed three major forms.


  • ethics;
  • government, politics, and law;
  • rationality;
  • religion;
  • responsibility;
  • sociology