The importance of being committed: Thoughts on korsgaard’s sources of normativity

Southwest Philosophy Review 19 (1):215-220 (2003)

Lydia L. Moland
Colby College
A subject’s ethical agency is closely tied up with her particular commitments: her ethnic group, her family, her beliefs, her occupation. The question of how these specific commitments relate to the subject’s actions is therefore pivotal to describing moral agency. Christine Korsgaard has proposed a theory whereby a subject’s commitments are an essential part of her moral agency, namely her practical identity. According to this theory, having commitments is normative, a necessary component of an agent’s respect for her own humanity. Obligation to other humans is an essential part of our practical identity, and our unavoidable responsiveness to the call of other humans assures that we will feel our obligation to them. I argue that explaining practical identity as necessary to ethical agency begins to describe the role of commitments in our agency, but that this description must go further to address the real import of commitments in ethical life.
Keywords practical identity  Christine Korsgaard  Kantian ethics
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DOI swphilreview200319122
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