Joseph Raz's 'normal justification thesis' is that the normal way of justifying someone's claim to authority over another person is that the latter would comply better with the reasons that apply to him anyway were he to treat the former's directives as authoritative. Darwall argues that this provides 'reasons of the wrong kind' for authority. He turns then to Raz's claim that the fact that treating someone as an authority would enable one to comply better with reasons that apply to (...) him anyway can ground the claim that the putative authority's directives provide 'pre-emptive' and 'exclusionary reasons' for acting. Raz is right that authoritative directives create such reasons, but that is because genuine authority entails accountability for compliance. Practical authority is internal to the concepts of authority and legitimate demand, and the pre-emptive and exclusionary character of reasons created by legitimate demands cannot be understood independently of their second-personal character. (shrink)
What is it for two or more people to be with one another or together? And what role do empathic psychological processes play, either as essential constituents or as typical elements? As I define it, to be genuinely with each other, persons must be jointly aware of their mutual openness to mutual relating. This means, I argue, that being with is a second-personal phenomenon in the sense I discuss in The Second-Person Standpoint. People who are with each other are in (...) one another's presence, where the latter is a matter of second-personal standing or authority, as in the divine presence or in the king's presence. To be with someone is, therefore, to give the other second-personal standing, implicitly, to claim it for oneself and, thus, to enter into a relation of mutual accountability. Second-personal relating, I argue, requires a distinctive form of empathy, projective empathy, through which we imaginatively occupy others' perspectives and view ourselves as if from their point of view. Projective empathy is thus an essential constituent of “being with.” But it is not the only form of empathy that being with typically involves. Further, I discuss ways in which emotional contagion, affect attunement, as well as projective empathy typically enter into the complex psychological (and ethical) phenomenon of being with another person. (shrink)
Beginning from an analysis of moral obligation's form that I defend in The Second-Person Standpoint as what we are answerable for as beings with the necessary capacities to enter into relations of mutual accountability, I argue that this analysis has implications for moral obligation's substance. Given what it is to take responsibility for oneself and hold oneself answerable, I argue, it follows that if there are any moral obligations at all, then there must exist a basic pro tanto obligation not (...) to undermine one another's moral autonomy. (shrink)
It is a commonplace that ‘autonomy’ has several different senses in contemporary moral and political discussion. The term’s original meaning was political: a right assumed by states to administer their own affairs. It was not until the nineteenth century that ‘autonomy’ came (in English) to refer also to the conduct of individuals, and even then there were, as now, different meanings.1 Odd as it may seem from our perspective, one that was in play from the beginning was Kant’s notion of (...) “autonomy of the will,”2 as Kant deﬁned it, “the property of the will by which it is a law to itself independently of any property of the objects of volition” (4:440).3That’s a mouthful, to say the least. And interpreting.. (shrink)
Jonathan Dancy’s Practical Reality makes a significant contribution to clarifying the relationship between desire and reasons for acting, both the normative reasons we seek in deliberation and the motivating reasons we cite in explanation. About the former, Dancy argues that, not only are normative reasons not all grounded in desires, but, more radically, the fact that one desires something is never itself a normative reason. And he argues that desires fail to figure in motivating reasons also, concluding that neither the (...) fact nor the state of desire is ever a motivating reason for acting. I am in significant agreement with Dancy about these matters, but I want to register some reservations nonetheless. Dancy is certainly right to reject the DBR (desire-based reasons) thesis that all normative reasons are grounded in desires.1 Desires, he points out, call for reasons no less than do actions. But I think he insufficiently appreciates a way in which facts about the agent’s desires and related practical psychic states can provide normative reasons. Not that this gives away anything to Dancy’s Humean opponents. What gives an agent’s desires, values, and moral convictions normative weight, I shall suggest, is her dignity and integrity as an individual person. (shrink)
Principia Ethica set the agenda for analytical metaethics. Moore’s unrelenting focus on fundamentals both brought metaethics into view as a potentially separate area of philosophical inquiry and provided a model of the analytical techniques necessary to pursue it.1 Moore acknowledged that he wasn’t the ﬁrst to insist on a basic irreducible core of all ethical concepts. Although he seems not to have appreciated the roots of this thought in eighteenth-century intuitionists like Clarke, Balguy, and Price, not to mention sentimentalists like (...) Hutcheson and Hume, Moore gave full marks to Sidgwick. According to Moore, Sidgwick was the “only . . . ethical writer” to have clearly seen the irreducibility of ethics’ deﬁning notion.2 Nevertheless, twentieth-century meta-. (shrink)
Consequentialism collects, for the first time, both the main classical sources and the central contemporary expressions of this important position. Edited and introduced by Stephen Darwall, these readings are essential for anyone interested in normative ethics.
Contractualism/Contractarianism collects, for the first time, both major classical sources and central contemporary discussions of these important approaches to philosophical ethics. Edited and introduced by Stephen Darwall, these readings are essential for anyone interested in normative ethics.
Deontology brings together some of the most significant philosophical work on ethics, presenting canonical essays on core questions in moral philosophy. Edited and introduced by Stephen Darwall, these readings are essential for anyone interested in normative theory.
How can an agent's desire or will give him reasons for acting? Not long ago, this might have seemed a silly question, since it was widely believed that all reasons for acting are based in the agent's desires. The interesting question, it seemed, was not how what an agent wants could give him reasons, but how anything else could. In recent years, however, this earlier orthodoxy has increasingly appeared wrongheaded as a growing number of philosophers have come to stress the (...) action-guiding role of reasons in deliberation from the agent's point of view. What a deliberating agent has in view is rarely his own will or desires as such, even if taking something as a reason is intimately tied to desire. Someone who wants to escape a burning building does not evaluate her options by considering which is likeliest to realize what she wants or wills. She is focused, rather, on her desire's object: getting out alive. The fact that a successful route would realize something she wants is apt to strike her as beside the point or, at best, as a trivial bonus. (shrink)
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Ethics is frequently divided into three parts: metaethics, normative ethical theory, and the more specific normative ethics. However, only metaethics is explicitly philosophical insofar as it is concerned with fundamental questions about the content, objects, and status of ethical thought and discourse. During the heyday of conceptual analysis, philosophers were admonished to restrict themselves entirely to metaethics. Since, it was said, they lacked any special expertise as philosophers on normative questions, their pronouncements could be no more than hortatory. I will (...) argue that there is no satisfactory alternative to conducting normative ethical inquiry in conjunction with metaethics. Only by investigating normative and metaethical questions together in an integrated philosophical ethics can we hope to make real progress with either. Ethics should remain part of philosophy. (shrink)
In what follows, I wish to discuss empathy and sympathy’s relevance to ethics, taking recent findings into account. In particular, I want to consider sympathy’s relation to the idea of a person’s good or well-being. It is obvious and uncontroversial that sympathetic concern for a person involves some concern for her good and some desire to promote it. What I want to suggest is that the concept of a person’s good or well-being is one we have because we are capable (...) of care and sympathetic concern. Well-being is normative for care in the sense that it is intrinsic to the very idea of a person’s good that threats to it are what it makes sense to be concerned about for that person for her sake. (shrink)
Why is ethics part of philosophy? Stephen Darwall's Philosophical Ethics introduces students to ethics from a distinctively philosophical perspective, one that weaves together central ethical questions such as "What has value?" and "What are our moral obligations?" with fundamental philosophical issues such as "What is value?" and "What can a moral obligation consist in?"With one eye on contemporary discussions and another on classical texts,Philosophical Ethics shows how Hobbes, Mill, Kant, Aristotle, and Nietzsche all did ethical philosophy how, for example, they (...) sought to gain insight into what has value through understanding what value itself is. After an introductory section, and one on main approaches to metaethics, chapters discuss "modern" philosophical moralists Hobbes, Mill, and Kant and pre- and postmodern philosophical approaches to ethics in Aristotle, Nietzsche, and the ethics of care. Throughout, the reader is invited to do rather than just read about philosophical ethics and, in doing so, to think through questions that face all thoughtful human beings. Themes include the nature of value and moral obligation, freedom and choice, human flourishing, excellence and merit, radical critiques of morality, and the importance of relationships for human life. (shrink)
What are ethical judgments about? And what is their relation to practice? How can ethical judgment aspire to objectivity? The past two decades have witnessed a resurgence of interest in metaethics, placing questions such as these about the nature and status of ethical judgment at the very center of contemporary moral philosophy. Moral Discourse and Practice: Some Philosophical Approaches is a unique anthology which collects important recent work, much of which is not easily available elsewhere, on core metaethical issues. Reinvigorated (...) naturalist moral realism and the various versions of moral realism, as well as irrealist, expressivist, and neo-Kantian constructivist theories are all represented in this fine collection, constituting a rich array of approaches to contemporary moral philosophy's most fundamental debates. An extensive introduction by Darwall, Gibbard, and Railton is also included, making this volume the most comprehensive and up-to-date work of its kind. Moral Discourse is ideally suited for use in courses in contemporary ethics, ethical theory, and metaethics. (shrink)
This book is a major work in the history of ethics, and provides the first study of early modern British philosophy in several decades. Professor Darwall discerns two distinct traditions feeding into the moral philosophy of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. On the one hand, there is the empirical, naturalist tradition, comprising Hobbes, Locke, Cumberland, Hutcheson, and Hume, which argues that obligation is the practical force that empirical discoveries acquire in the process of deliberation. On the other hand, there is (...) a group including Cudworth, Shaftesbury, Butler, and in some moments Locke, which views obligation as inconceivable without autonomy and which seeks to develop a theory of the will as self-determining. (shrink)
have come in for increasing attention and controversy. A good example would be recent debates about moral realism where question of the relation between ethics (or ethical judgment) and the will has come to loom large.' Unfortunately, however, the range of positions labelled internalist in ethical writing is bewilderingly large, and only infrequently are important distinctions kept clear.2 Sometimes writers have in mind the view that sincere assent to a moral (or, more generally, an ethical) judgment concerning what one should (...) do is necessarily connected to motivation (actual or dispositional).s This necessity may be conceptual, or perhaps metaphysical, the thought being.. (shrink)
There are two ways in which philosophical controversialists can approach a classical opponent of their views. They can attempt to refute him, or they can try to show that, while generally assumed to be an opponent, the philosopher really was not, at least when he was thinking clearly. Of these two strategies, the latter, if it can be pulled off, is dialectically..