Practical identities and autonomy: Korsgaard's reformation of Kant's moral philosophy

Christopher Gowans
Fordham University
Kant has long been taxed with an inability to explain the detailed normative content of our lives by making universalizability the sole arbiter of our values. Korsgaard addresses one form of this critique by defending a Kantian theory amended by a seemingly attractive conception of practical identities. Identities are dependent on the contingent circumstances of each person's world. Hence, obligations issuing from them differ from Kantian moral obligations in not applying to all persons. Still, Korsgaard takes Kantian autonomy to mean the normativity of all obligations is rooted in universalizability. The wealth of values informing our lives is thus said to be accommodated within a Kantian framework.After briefly explaining Korsgaard’s understanding of practical identities and their role in her reformation of Kant's moral philosophy, I argue that she gives an inadequate explanation of how the obligations that arise from a person’s practical identities derive their authority from the person's will. I then consider how her position might be developed to meet this objection in accordance with her allegiance to “constructivism” and I argue that the epistemic commitments of people’s actual identities makes it unlikely that such a development could preserve Kantian autonomy as she interprets it
Keywords Analytic Philosophy  Contemporary Philosophy  Philosophy of Mind
Categories (categorize this paper)
ISBN(s) 0031-8205
DOI 10.1111/j.1933-1592.2002.tb00160.x
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 36,003
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Korsgaard's Arguments for the Value of Humanity.Michael Bukoski - 2018 - Philosophical Review 127 (2):197-224.
Practical Identity, Obligation, and Sociality.Ana Marta González - forthcoming - Journal of Social Philosophy.
Bare Personhood? Velleman on Selfhood.Catriona Mackenzie - 2007 - Philosophical Explorations 10 (3):263 – 282.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Kant's Fact of Reason as Source of Normativity.Bryan Lueck - 2009 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 52 (6):596 – 608.
Kantian Autonomy and the Moral Self.Eric Entrican Wilson - 2008 - Review of Metaphysics 62 (2):355-381.
Practical Reason and Motivational Scepticism.Paul Russell - 2006 - In Heiner F. Klemme, Manfred Kühn & Dieter Schönecker (eds.), Moralische Motivation. Kant und die Alternativen. Felix Meiner Verlag.
Korsgaard's Rejection of Consequentialism.David Cummiskey - 2011 - Metaphilosophy 42 (4):360-367.
The Sources of Normativity.Christine M. Korsgaard - 1996 - Cambridge University Press.
Moral Obligations and Practical Identities.Tea Logar - 2005 - Croatian Journal of Philosophy 5 (14):359-372.


Added to PP index

Total downloads
78 ( #83,953 of 2,294,062 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
5 ( #109,336 of 2,294,062 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature