The moral insignificance of ``bare'' personal reasons

Philosophical Studies 110 (1):29 - 47 (2002)
Abstract
Common sense supports the idea that we can have morally significantreasons for giving priority to the interests of persons for whom wehave special concern. Yet there is a real question about the natureof such reasons. Many people seem to believe that there are biologicalor metaphysical special relations, such as family, race, religion orpersonal identity, which are in themselves morally important and thussupply reasons for special concern. I maintain that there are nogrounds for accepting this. What matters morally, I argue, is thesubstance of personal or wider social relationships. My ``substantivist''account of the source of morally salient reasons for special concernis positioned between nonreductionist and strong voluntarist views ofspecial responsibilities. Substantivism is more plausible than theseviews and has important implications for how we approach morallyweighing personal versus impartial reasons.
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