Locating Morality: Moral Imperatives as Bodily Imperatives


This chapter explores the possibility of identifying core moral claims with the states of mind which are called bodily imperatives—e.g. the ‘make it stop’ state of mind which is plausibly an aspect of, if not identical with, severe pain states and states such as severe thirst, hunger, sleeplessness, humiliation, terror, and torment. The chapter combines this idea with another, that the desire-like, conative, or ‘world-guiding’ states of mind which make normative claims on agents need not belong to the agent on whom the claim is made, on a broadly Humean or desire-based view in metaethics. On the view defended, any subject’s bodily imperatives can make moral claims on any moral agent. The case is made that bodily imperatives are a good candidate for constituting the core moral claims or basic imperatives of morality, which all others are either built from, or at least constrained by.

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Kate Manne
Cornell University

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