Lydia L. Moland
Colby College
Christine Korsgaard attempts to reinterpret Kantian ethics in a way that might alleviate Bernard Williams’ famous worry that a man cannot save his drowning wife without determining impartially that he may do so. She does this by dividing a reflective self that chooses the commitments that make up an agent’s practical identity from a self defined as a jumble of desires. An agent, she then argues, must act on the commitments chosen by the reflective self on pain of disintegration. Using Harry Frankfurt’s emphasis on love as a final end, I argue that disintegration as motivation is not a more acceptable motivation than impartiality and so does not adequately address Williams’ criticism. I also argue that the idea of a divided self either leads to an infinite regress or to an implausible description of how our commitments evolve and change. To make this last claim, I discuss a case from John Updike’s novel 'In the Beauty of the Lilies.'
Keywords Christine Korsgaard  Harry Frankfurt  Bernard Williams  practical identity  Kantian ethics
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Kant's Theory of Freedom.Henry E. Allison - 1990 - Cambridge University Press.
The Alleged Moral Repugnance of Acting From Duty.Marcia Baron - 1984 - Journal of Philosophy 81 (4):197-220.
Rescuing Moral Obligation.John Skorupski - 1998 - European Journal of Philosophy 6 (3):335–355.

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