The Shmagency Question

Philosophical Studies 172 (5):1127-1142 (2015)

Authors
Matthew Silverstein
New York University, Abu Dhabi
Abstract
Constitutivists hope to locate the foundations of ethics in the nature of action. They hope to find norms that are constitutive of agency. Recently David Enoch has argued that even if there are such norms, they cannot provide the last word when it comes to normativity, since they cannot tell us whether we have reason to be agents rather than shmagents. I argue that the force of the shmagency objection has been considerably overestimated, because philosophers on both sides of the debate have failed to grasp the true source of the authority of agency’s constitutive norm. Some constitutivists believe that this authority is rooted in the inescapability of agency. Yet agency is not, in fact, inescapable. What actually grounds the authority of agency’s constitutive norm is the fact that there is no standpoint outside of agency from which we can intelligibly ask normative questions.
Keywords Constitutivism  Agency  Enoch  Shmagency  Normativity
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DOI 10.1007/s11098-014-0340-x
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References found in this work BETA

Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person.Harry G. Frankfurt - 1971 - Journal of Philosophy 68 (1):5-20.
Reasons Without Rationalism.Kieran Setiya - 2007 - Princeton University Press.
Reasons Without Rationalism.Kieran Setiya - 2009 - Analysis 69 (3):509-510.

View all 16 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Kant: Constitutivism as Capacities-First Philosophy.Karl Schafer - 2019 - Philosophical Explorations 22 (2):177-193.
Authoritatively Normative Concepts.Tristram McPherson - forthcoming - In Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics. Oxford University Press.
Constitutivism Without Normative Thresholds.Kathryn Lindeman - 2017 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 3 (XII):231-258.
Why Care About Being an Agent?Caroline T. Arruda - 2017 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 95 (3):488-504.

View all 18 citations / Add more citations

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