9. Moral realism and personal variations

In Strong Evaluation Without Moral Sources: On Charles Taylor's Philosophical Anthropology and Ethics. Berlin & New York: Walter de Gruyter. pp. 324-350 (2008)

Arto Laitinen
Tampere University
A satisfactory theory of “strong evaluation” should manage to do two things: first of all, make sense of the distinction between impersonal ethical issues and personal orientation. Secondly, the deontic layer of reasons and norms should be taken into account, among other things because the central indicators of strong evaluation, namely praise and blame, presuppose norms and reasons as standards of praiseworthiness and blameworthiness. These two desiderata seem to pull in different directions. The suggested analysis of the deontic layer in terms of external, value-based reasons for action may make it seem even more difficult to allow for reasons of one’s own. I argue that there can be reasons of one’s own, depending on one’s orientations, commitments and the actual shape of one’s affective-conative responses. First I discuss the general reasons that decisions and commitments create, and general (stance-insensitive) reasons for making a commitment to X. These suffice as a reply to MacIntyre’s worry (9.2). Yet the picture can be developed further. Drawing on the idea of exclusionary reasons (introduced in 9.1), I discuss the general reasons for having an orientation of one’s own and the difference between an orientation to the good and a commitment to a good. The difference is the role they have as reasons for action. Commitments play a stronger role in practical reasoning because they are exclusionary reasons (9.3). Then I turn to non-uniformity and stance-sensitivity of reasons, and ask whether different people have stance-sensitive reasons to make different commitments (9.4). In the last section I analyze more closely the nature of personal resonance and the difference it may make (9.5).
Keywords Moral realism  Value orientations  Identity  Practical reasons  Stance-dependence
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DOI 10.1515/9783110211900.324
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