Feb 01, Ross rated it really liked it Your reasons express your identity, your nature; your obligations spring from what that identity forbids. That is, it is to no longer be able to think of yourself under the description under which you value yourself and find your life to be worth living and your actions to be worth undertaking. It is to be for all practical purposes dead or worse than dead. Korsgaard seeks to answer the Your reasons express your identity, your nature; your obligations spring from what that identity forbids. Korsgaard seeks to answer the "normative question": what justifies the claims that morality makes on us? In addition to addressing how and why moral ideas can have important practical and psychological effects on us, she also attempts to justify granting this kind of importance to morality.
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Korsgaard is a very prominent modern Kantian. The result purports to be an objective and universal theory of meta-ethics. As reflective beings, we must reflexively endorse a desire if it is to be considered a reason to act.
Korsgaard turns inward the voluntarist formulation of legislator and citizen, positing the thinking self and acting self as our double nature. The thinking self has the power to command the acting self. Human beings must act under the idea of free will. The reason cannot be imposed by an external source. Autonomy requires self-imposed laws, which cannot be picked arbitrarily. The Categorical Imperative tells us to act only on a maxim that can be consistently willed into a universal law.
A good maxim is an intrinsically normative entity. We can do this with a maxim, for it has the form of a law by virtue of its intrinsic properties, and it is this that makes it a final reason for action. This is still procedural realism.
Values are created through our legislative wills by the procedure of making laws for ourselves. Only a law that ranges over every rational being will be a moral law. It is our practical identities that guide us in our acquisition of moral law and the actions we take based on them. These laws are constrained by the Categorical Imperative. Our practical identities give us reasons to act in one way rather than another.
It is unthinkable to act contrary to our identity. When we are acting under volitional necessity, that is, when all actions but one are unthinkable then we are most autonomous. As autonomous reflective beings that act for reasons, we must value our practical identities. For to violate them is to lose your integrity and so your identity, and to no longer be who you are. It is here, in the Self, that Korsgaard locates the source of normativity.
Like some realists, Korsgaard holds that reasons are intrinsically normative entities. However, she rejects the commonly held belief that reasons are private, and that one can derive public reasons from private reasons. A private reason would be a reason only for X, whereas public reasons are reasons for all agents relatively similar to X. Reasons are inherently public. Since human beings have only reasons that can be shared, if we value our own humanity we must recognize that we share that humanity with others and so must value the humanity of others as well.
To do otherwise would constitute a failure to be consistent. Herein lies our moral obligations to others. Geoffrey is an Aristotelian-Libertarian political philosopher, writer, editor, and web designer.
He is the founder of the Libertarian Fiction Authors Association. He lives in Greenville, NC.
Korsgaard is a very prominent modern Kantian. The result purports to be an objective and universal theory of meta-ethics. As reflective beings, we must reflexively endorse a desire if it is to be considered a reason to act. Korsgaard turns inward the voluntarist formulation of legislator and citizen, positing the thinking self and acting self as our double nature. The thinking self has the power to command the acting self. Human beings must act under the idea of free will.
The Sources of Normativity
We are social animals, so probably the whole thing has a biological basis. Or at least, when we invoke them, we make claims on one another. The same is true of the other concepts for which we seek philosophical foundations. Concepts like knowledge, beauty, and meaning, as well as virtue and justice, all have a normative dimension, for they tell us what to think, what to like, what to say, what to do, and what to be.