Pains of Perseverance: Agent-Centred Prerogatives, Burdens and the Limits of Human Motivation

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 18 (3):501-514 (2015)
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An important question in recent work in political philosophy concerns whether facts about individuals’ motivational deficiencies are facts to which principles of justice are sensitive. In this context, David Estlund has recently argued that the difficulties individuals’ face in motivating themselves to act do not affect the content of normative principles that apply to them. Against Estlund, the paper argues that in principle the motivational difficulties individuals face can affect the content of normative principles that apply to them. This argument is made with reference to so-called Agent-Centred Prerogatives. The paper argues that because the limits on human motivational capacities can affect the extent to which it is burdensome to do something, those limits also impact on the nature of justified Agent-Centred Prerogatives. If Agent-Centred Prerogatives to depart from a putative normative principle depend on the burdensomeness of complying with that requirement, human motivational capacities can affect which normative principles apply



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Gideon Elford
University of Oxford

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The View From Nowhere.Thomas Nagel - 1986 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Rescuing Justice and Equality.G. A. Cohen (ed.) - 2008 - Harvard University Press.
Utilitarianism: For and Against.J. J. C. Smart & Bernard Williams - 1973 - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Bernard Williams.
Ideal and nonideal theory.A. John Simmons - 2010 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 38 (1):5-36.

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