Respect for persons and the moral force of socially constructed norms

Noûs 55 (2):385-408 (2021)
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Abstract

When and why do socially constructed norms—including the laws of the land, norms of etiquette, and informal customs—generate moral obligations? I argue that the answer lies in the duty to respect others, specifically to give them what I call “agency respect.” This is the kind of respect that people are owed in light of how they exercise their agency. My central thesis is this: To the extent that (i) existing norms are underpinned by people’s commitments as agents and (ii) they do not conflict with morality, they place moral demands on us on agency-respect grounds. This view of the moral force of socially constructed norms, I suggest, is superior to views that deny the moral force of such norms, and it elegantly explains certain instances of wrongdoing that would otherwise remain unaccounted for.

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Author's Profile

Laura Valentini
Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München

Citations of this work

Online Public Shaming: Virtues and Vices.Paul Billingham & Tom Parr - 2020 - Journal of Social Philosophy 51 (3):371-390.
The reasons of the unreasonable: Is political liberalism still an option?Benedetta Giovanola & Roberta Sala - 2021 - Sage Publications Ltd: Philosophy and Social Criticism 48 (9):1226-1246.
The reasons of the unreasonable: Is political liberalism still an option?Benedetta Giovanola & Roberta Sala - 2021 - Sage Publications Ltd: Philosophy and Social Criticism 48 (9):1226-1246.
Integrated Moral Agency and the Practical Phenomenon of Moral Diversity.Michael Moehler - 2021 - Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics 14 (2):53-77.

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References found in this work

What we owe to each other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
The concept of law.Hla Hart - 1961 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Two kinds of respect.Stephen Darwall - 1977 - Ethics 88 (1):36-49.

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