Constitutivism and the Self-Reflection Requirement

Philosophia 44 (4):1165-1183 (2016)
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Constitutivists explicitly emphasize the importance of self-reflection for rational agency. Interestingly enough, there is no clear account of how and why self-reflection plays such an important role for these views. My aim in this paper is to address this underappreciated problem for constitutivist views and to determine whether constitutivist self-reflection is normatively oriented. Understanding its normative features will allow us to evaluate a potential way that constitutivism may meet its purported metaethical promise. I begin by showing why constitutivism, as exemplified by Korsgaard’s and Velleman’s respective views, takes self-reflection to be a constitutive feature of rational agency. Closer examination of this claim suggests three underappreciated problems for the constitutivist’s apparent reliance on self-reflection. First, we have no picture of the specific role that self-reflection plays. Second, it is unclear in what sense it is a requirement for full-fledged agency and, thereby, for self-constitution. Third, it is not clear whether it has any necessary normative features, even given the often cited moral normativity associated with constitutivism. In §1, I will address the first and second questions. §2 will be dedicated to considering the third question.



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Caroline T. Arruda
Tulane University

Citations of this work

Constructivism in metaethics.Carla Bagnoli - 2017 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Constructivism in metaethics.Carla Bagnoli - 2011 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Constitutivism without Normative Thresholds.Kathryn Lindeman - 2017 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 3 (XII):231-258.

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References found in this work

What we owe to each other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
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Slaves of the passions.Mark Andrew Schroeder - 2007 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Intention.G. E. M. Anscombe - 1957 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
The sources of normativity.Christine M. Korsgaard - 1996 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Onora O'Neill.

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