Skepticism about practical reason: Transcendental arguments and their limits

Philosophical Studies 109 (2):121 - 141 (2002)
Abstract
Transcendental arguments offer a particularlypowerful strategy for combating skepticism. Such arguments, after all, attempt to show thata particular skepticism is not simply mistakenbut inconsistent or self-refuting. Whilethus tempting to philosophers struggling withskepticism of various sorts, the boldconclusions of these arguments have longrendered them suspicious in the eyes of many. In fact, in a famous paper from 1968 BarryStroud develops what is often taken to be adecisive case against transcendental argumentsin general.Recent work in the area of practical reason,however, suggests that such arguments stillhave their defenders. Theorists such as JamesDreier and Christine Korsgaard have reliedexplicitly on transcendental arguments tojustify certain principles of practical reason. Can such arguments overcome Stroud's objection? In what follows, I argue that they can. However effective Stroud's general criticismmay be in other areas, it does not apply in therealm of practical reason. Nevertheless, thereare strict limits on how far transcendentalarguments can take us. In particular, despiteKorsgaard's efforts, they cannot succeed inestablishing a rational foundation formorality.
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Ariela Tubert (2010). Constitutive Arguments. Philosophy Compass 5 (8):656-666.
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