Rights and the second-person standpoint: A challenge to Darwall's account

Stephen Darwall’s The Second Person Standpoint is built around an analysis of the “second-person standpoint,” which he argues builds in a series of presuppositions which help shape (and perhaps even give content to) morality. This paper argues that there is a kind of paradox tied up in the two central claims at the heart of this project – that second-personal address directs one practically rather than epistemically by giving reasons for action one otherwise would not have had, and that all moral obligation is second-personal in precisely this way – that I will argue forces us onto the horns of a dilemma. Two possible solutions to this dilemma are analyzed, one drawing on the Kantian notion of a “regulative ideal,” the other on Michael Thompson’s concept of “bipolar normativity.” Ultimately, I argue, neither is successful.
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