Autonomy and the authority of personal commitments: From internal coherence to social normativity

Philosophical Explorations 6 (2):90 – 108 (2003)
Abstract
It has been argued - most prominently in Harry Frankfurt's recent work - that the normative authority of personal commitments derives not from their intrinsic worth but from the way in which one's will is invested in what one cares about. In this essay, I argue that even if this approach is construed broadly and supplemented in various ways, its intrasubjective character leaves it ill-prepared to explain the normative grip of commitments in cases of purported self-betrayal. As an alternative, I sketch a view that focuses on intersubjective constraints of intelligibility built into social practices and on the pragmatics of how those norms are contested in an ongoing fashion
Keywords Autonomy  Normativity  Charles Taylor  Harry Frankfurt  Second-order desires  Self-interpretation
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