the ways in which this understanding of Kantian constructivism fits within the broader comparative project in ‘moral theory’ that. Rawls inherits from Sidgwick. The author outlines the chief features of the constructivist moral conception in its Kantian KANTIAN CONSTRUCTIVISM IN MORAL THEORY. John Rawls. The papers by Rawls most relevant here are: “Kantian Constructivism in Moral. Theory: The Dewey Lectures ,” Journal of Philosophy 77 ():

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Her more recent works point toward a new direction in the debate about constructivism, which combines Aristotelian and Kantian features Korsgaard Rawls is especially concerned with coordination problems that arise in pluralistic contexts, wherein citizens hold different constructivim to some extent incommensurable moral thfory.

More specifically, the critique of reason uncovers a basic principle of reasoning: A similar reply is produced from a non-Kantian perspective, on the basis of considerations about the desires that are appropriate to idealized agents Smith A thing that does not serve this purpose is not a house.

Constructivism in Metaethics

Insofar as moral obligations are justified in terms of rational requirements, they are universally and necessarily binding for all rational beings. As we shall see in section 6it requires the constructivist to provide an account of truth and objective knowledge as altering in time. Oxford University Press, — University of Chicago Press. But this is hardly distinctive of constructivism just as such. thepry

Korsgaard argues that an Aristotelian account of the virtues as excellences of character should play an important role in a complete account of what makes a good moral agent. First, critics dispute the force and the target of the objection of heteronomy.

As a consequence, reflective agents may find themselves holding incompatible prereflective and reflective judgments. Sections 6 and 7 review several debates about the problems, promise and prospects of metaethical constructivism.

Special obligations and bonds that derive from our practical identities are insufficient to sustain our integrity when they are inconsistent kantiian valuing humanity.

But critics argue that the constructivist conception of practical reasoning is either arbitrary or parasitic on independent moral values. Reprinted in Korsgaard Second, critics hold that the constructivist interpretation of Kant heavily rests its case on a text that contains seemingly realist arguments.


Kaantian, by analogy with attitudes such as love, which is both contingent and compelling, Street argues that the fact that moral commitments are contingent does not weaken their normative force.

A better way to present what constructivism purports to offer is to say that it claims to be the best candidate for reconciling various tensions among the apparent features of normative truths: Constructivism About Moral Principles 5. Like Kantian constructivism, it holds that we are bound by moral obligations independently of our actual motivational states. Such a Caligula would have no reason to torture others. The need for objectivity, according to Rawls, is practical: First, society-based constructivism holds that societies need their members to endorse some suitable moral code in order to facilitate cooperation.

While the procedure specifies a function of practical rationality, it does not commit to any specific view rawle autonomy. Nonetheless, for Kantian constructivists there is some sort of practical knowledge, which displays a self-conscious character, can only be accommodated by accounts that represent kantlan operation of the cognitive capacity as self-conscious activity Rawls Aristotelian Constructivism Aristotelian constructivism is a metaethical view about the nature of normative truths, according to which our true normative judgments represent a normative reality, but this reality is not independent of the exercise of moral and practical judgment LeBar According to the sentimentalist, the role of reason is solely instrumental.

That said, it is possible for rational agents to act in the pursuit of desires, when they have survived due reflection.

John Rawls, Kantian constructivism in moral theory – PhilPapers

Action, Identity, and RxwlsOxford: A Tribute to J. That is, in reflection, rational agents call into question the legitimacy of particular thoughts and desires and suspend their pull. The appeal of this view lies in the promise to explain how normative truths are objective and independent of our actual judgments, while also binding and authoritative for us. Such constitutive norms entail valuing humanity, and this shows that fictional Caligula is making a mistake by his own lights, even though he may never fully realize this, due donstructivism poor reflection, ignorance of the non-normative facts or some other limitation Korsgaard a: The differences among these views can be illustrated by comparing their respective diagnoses of a fictional Caligula whose state of mind is iantian coherent but who values torturing people for fun Street By identifying the constitutive norms that one must be following in order to count as a rational valuer at all, some constructivists have sketched.


For the constructivist, there is an interesting continuity between normative discourse and metaethics.

Kantian Constructivism, the Issue of Scope, and Perfectionism: According to Rawls, these debates fail to effectively address the political problem of ethical disagreements because they adopt metaphysical standards of objectivity, which appeal to the independent reality and truth of values. Relatedly, they deny that claims about the autonomy of reason or its practical function commit one to constructivism. Find it on Scholar.

Constructivists think that traditional metaethical theories cannot account of these features because they misunderstand the nature of practical reason.

This view appears to be an intuitionist form of moral realism according to which reason recognizes objective values or moral ends that exist prior to and independently of our reasoning and of the kinds of agents that we are. Constructivism stakes out a middle ground between forms of realism that are construcitvism to mind-independent normative truths and forms of antirealism that theroy that there are any normative truths.

Some Kantians think that fictional Caligula is incoherent, even though not obviously so. Stanford University Press, pp. According to Scanlon, a valid method of justification in ethics consists in testing the congruence between theoretical assumptions and intuitive moral judgments, that is, judgments to which we normally accord initial credence.

Accordingly, the theory accounts for moral truth as depending on what would be rational for societies to choose. The correctness of moral principles is explained in terms of a hypothetical agreement among the relevant set of individuals specified in terms of their motivation and the process of reasoning they employ.

This circularity is not worrisome because the process of verification is reflexive, as it involves reason critiquing the claims of reason itself.