Moral Philosophy Seminar (Monday - Week 4, HT23)

moral philosophy

Constitutivists offer a promising line of defence against sceptical challenges to the authority of fundamental practical principles by arguing that these principles are grounded in the nature of rational agency. If it can be shown that certain standards are constitutive of rational agency, and we cannot but be rational agents, it is hard to deny that these standards apply to us. Kant’s ethics looms large in the debate. But was Kant actually a constitutivist? In this paper, I argue that he was a very peculiar kind of constitutivist because he defies several key assumptions of modern constitutivism, e.g. the idea that different types of practical standards can be justified in the same way or the widespread belief that ethics is all about practical reasoning. As we are free to decide to act contrary to our moral judgement, his constitutivism turns out to be a constitutivism of judgement rather than agency.

Moral Philosophy Seminar Convenor: Jeremy Fix