It has recently been pointed out that the cloudiness of the concept of authenticity as well as inflated ideologies of the ‘true self’ provide good reasons to criticize theories and ideals of authenticity. Nevertheless, there are also good reasons to defend an ethical ideal of authenticity, not least because of its critical and oppositional force, which is directed against experiences of self-abandonment and self-alienation. I will argue for an elaborated ethical ideal of authenticity: the ambitious ideal of a continuous self-reflective (...) process of ‘self-authentication’. For this purpose, the ideal of being authentic in expressing and unfolding one’s individual personality and characteristics will be combined with the ideal of being ‘an authentic person’ - whereby ‘a person’ is to be understood in a Kantian sense as an autonomous person who is reasonable and morally responsible. (shrink)
Recently some bioethicists and neuroscientists have argued for an imperative of chemical cognitive enhancement. This imperative is usually based on consequentialist grounds. In this paper, the topic of cognitive self-enhancement is discussed from a Kantian point of view in order to shed new light on the controversial debate. With Kant, it is an imperfect duty to oneself to strive for perfecting one’s own natural and moral capacities beyond one’s natural condition, but there is no duty to enhance others. A Kantian (...) approach does not directly lead to a duty of chemical cognitive self-enhancement, but it also does not clearly rule out that this type of enhancement can be an appropriate means to the end of self-improvement. The paper shows the benefits of a Kantian view, which offers a consistent ideal of self-perfection and teaches us a lesson about the crucial relevance of the attitude that underlies one’s striving for cognitive self-improvement: the lesson of treating oneself as an end in itself and not as mere means to the end of better output. (shrink)
In today’s highly dynamic societies, moral norms and values are subject to change. Moral change is partly driven by technological developments. For instance, the introduction of robots in elderly care practices requires caregivers to share moral responsibility with a robot (see van Wynsberghe 2013 ). Since we do not know what elements of morality will change and how they will change (see van der Burg 2003 ), moral education should aim at fostering what has been called “moral resilience” (Swierstra 2013 (...) ). We seek to fill two gaps in the existing literature: (i) research on moral education has not paid enough attention to the development of moral resilience; (ii) the very limited literature on moral resilience does not conceptualise moral resilience in relation to new technological developments. We argue that philosophical accounts of moral education need to do justice to the importance of moral resilience, and that a specific form of moral resilience should be conceptualised as “technomoral resilience” to underline the added value of cultivating moral resilience in relation to technomoral change. We illustrate the role of technomoral resilience in practice by looking at the context of elderly care. To make the first step towards an account of how technomoral resilience can be fostered in moral education, we propose that moral education shall focus on a triangle of capacities: (1) moral imagination, (2) a capacity for critical reflection, and (3) a capacity for maintaining one’s moral agency in the face of disturbances. (shrink)
Kant introduces a duty to oneself to respect oneself and to avoid servility – or notto make oneself a worm. I argue for a wider understanding of this duty: Persons ought to respect their own dignity as persons with autonomy, rationality, and morality (A), but also as personalities, who embody dignity and live a dignified life (B). A corresponds to Kant’s concept of duty as the necessity of an action done out of respect for the moral law, B is an (...) obligation arising from the practical necessity that follows from one’s self-understanding as an individual personality in a socio-cultural context. A and B relate to two types of dignity that are discussed in current debates. I argue that both types of dignity are equally relevant for understanding and respecting one’s own dignity. Finally I discuss why, even though persons can behave like worms, others ought not to step on them. (shrink)
This paper argues that certain expressions of practical necessity – like ‘I have to do this, I do not have a choice’ or ‘Here I stand, I can do no other’ – allow an insight into deep structures of personality and self-understanding. They point at a limit where someone would have to ‘become another person’ (in his own view), if he was forced to an alternative decision, because of neglecting ground-projects and convictions, which are essential for his self-conception. This limit (...) is marked by a loss of autonomy and authenticity. The paper discusses why and in how far expressions of personal necessities seem to have a special value and authority as they call forth the respect of the other towards an individual personality, even though this does not exclude that there may also be a necessity of self-reform. (shrink)
This book deals with theories of the gift, in particular in contemporary French philosophy. The gift can be regarded as a preliminary stage of complex economical procedures. But it can also be understood as a phenomenon that transgresses the structures of economy. In the act of exchanging gifts, the agents symbolize their interpersonal relationship and mutual recognition. It is pointed out that the praxis of the gift can be considered as an essential form of any socio-cultural interaction, as an essential (...) concept of phenomenological thought, and as a model for the particular character of the exchange of knowledge, skills and philosophical wisdom in general. (shrink)
This collection of essays provides the first systematic investigation of practical necessity and offers novel perspectives on this intriguing phenomenon. While debates on necessity often take place in the realm of metaphysics, there is a form of necessity that is pertinent to practical philosophy. “Here I stand. I can do no other,” a phrase habitually attributed to Luther, is often interpreted as revealing underlying normative reasons that exhibit a special kind of necessitating force, experienced as an inescapable constraint by the (...) agent. However, one of the features that make this phenomenon so fascinating is that this constraint is often deciphered as stemming from a form of necessitation that articulates the agent’s autonomy or practical identity. Luther’s saying serves as a leitmotif for an exploration of different claims and challenges related to practical necessity. (shrink)
One of the most threatening effects of dementia is the experience of forgetting or losing one’s self. How can patients and their caregivers cope with this experience? Based on the example of Arno Geiger’s narrative about his father this paper suggests aiming at a joint re-interpretation of the patient’s personality. For this purpose it is essential to respect the patient as a person with practical significance.
When we quote Luther’s dictum, “Here I stand. I can do no other,” we refer to the composure of someone who experiences the necessity to follow a particular course of action against all odds. The incapacity of alternative action is not regarded as a deficit; in such cases, it seems to “lend some added weight” to the decision. This paper deals with the question what kind of value is attributed to experiences of practical necessities or incapacities, in particular, if these (...) derive from an individual’s psychological “structure” and the limits of someone’s personality. Finally, it distinguishes between different types of added weight that are related to different forms of personal and normative necessities. This weight can be legitimately attributed to the virtue of standing for something and being an example of what everybody should do, but it can also be attributed to the valid claim of standing by the demarcation line of one’s personality and defending it against the threat of losing oneself. (shrink)
In this letter to our German colleagues we describe the situation, mentality, and organization of academic philosophy in the Netherlands in comparison to Germany. We proceed in five acts. In the first act, A wide beach, we set the stage and introduce the two academic landscapes; in the second act, Between controversy and frontal teaching, we compare the Dutch and German academic temper and practices. In the third act, Flat land, flat hierarchies, we parallelize the geography of the Netherlands and (...) the organizational structure of Dutch universities. In the fourth act, Philosophers among merchants, we discuss the positive and negative sides of the liberal, transparent, competitive and progress-oriented spirit of Dutch academic philosophy. In the fifth and final act, Philosophy from the pragmatic point of view, we conclude what we can learn from our Dutch neighbours: We plea for a non-elitist, down to earth, straight-forward, and open-minded way of doing philosophy, where one is neither shying away from controversy nor too shy to come down from the ivory tower and mingle with the audience. (shrink)
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