What kind of life best ensures human welfare? Since the ancient Greeks, this question has been as central to ethical philosophy as to ordinary reflection. But what exactly is welfare? This question has suffered from relative neglect. And, as Stephen Darwall shows, it has done so at a price. Presenting a provocative new "rational care theory of welfare," Darwall proves that a proper understanding of welfare fundamentally changes how we think about what is best for people.Most philosophers have assumed that (...) a person's welfare is what is good from her point of view, namely, what she has a distinctive reason to pursue. In the now standard terminology, welfare is assumed to have an "agent-relative normativity." Darwall by contrast argues that someone's good is what one should want for that person insofar as one cares for her. Welfare, in other words, is normative, but not peculiarly for the person whose welfare is at stake. In addition, Darwall makes the radical proposal that something's contributing to someone's welfare is the same thing as its being something one ought to want for her own sake, insofar as one cares. Darwall defends this theory with clarity, precision, and elegance, and with a subtle understanding of the place of sympathetic concern in the rich psychology of sympathy and empathy. His forceful arguments will change how we understand a concept central to ethics and our understanding of human bonds and human choices. (shrink)
S. 39: "My project in this paper is to develop the initial distinction which I have drawn between recognition and appraisal respect into a more detailed and specific account of each. These accounts will not merely be of intrinsic interest. Ultimately I will use them to illuminate the puzzles with which this paper began and to understand the idea of self-respect." 42 " Thus, insofar as respect within such a pursuit will depend on an appraisal of the participant from the (...) perspective of whatever standards are held to be appropriate to the pursuit, such respect will depend on a judgement to which excellences of character are thought relevant. Note that exactly what aspect of the person's character is thought to be relevant in this instance is his recognition respect (or lack of it) for the standards of the pursuit." 44 "This attitude fails of being appraisal respect in that my having it toward the person is conditional on those traits being such as to make him server a particular purpose that I happen to have" 44 - 45 "To sum up: Appraisal respect is an attitude of positibe appraisal of a person either judged as a person or as engaged in some more specific pursuit. In the first case, the appropriate grounds are features of the person's character: dispositions to act for particular reasons or a higher-level disposition to act for the best reasons. In the second case, though features of character do not exhaust the appropriate grounds for appraisal respect, some such character traits will be relevant (recognition respect for the standards of a particular pursuit). Also, the other features which constitute the appoprate excellences of the pursuit must be related to traits of character in the way specified. In both cases, the positive appraisal of the person, and of his traits, must be categorical. It cannot depend on the fact that the person, because of his traits, serves an interest or purpose of one's own." 45 "To have recognition respect for someone as a person is to give appropriate weight to the fact that he or she is a person by being willing to constrain one's behaviour in ways required by that fact." 45 "This is rather different from having an attitude of appraisal respect for someone as a person. The latter is a positive appraisal oif an individual made with regard ti those features which are excellences of persons. As such, it is not owed to everone, for it may or may not be merited. When it is, what is merited is just the positive appraisal itself." 47 "Second, the only beings who are approriate objects of appraisal respect are those who are capable of acting for reasons and hence capable of conceiving of various facts as meriting more or less consideration in deliberation.". (shrink)
What are ethical judgments about? And what is their relation to practice? How can ethical judgment aspire to objectivity? The past two decades have witnessed a resurgence of interest in metaethics, placing questions such as these about the nature and status of ethical judgment at the very center of contemporary moral philosophy. Moral Discourse and Practice: Some Philosophical Approaches is a unique anthology which collects important recent work, much of which is not easily available elsewhere, on core metaethical issues. Reinvigorated (...) naturalist moral realism and the various versions of moral realism, as well as irrealist, expressivist, and neo-Kantian constructivist theories are all represented in this fine collection, constituting a rich array of approaches to contemporary moral philosophy's most fundamental debates. An extensive introduction by Darwall, Gibbard, and Railton is also included, making this volume the most comprehensive and up-to-date work of its kind. Moral Discourse is ideally suited for use in courses in contemporary ethics, ethical theory, and metaethics. (shrink)
In what follows, I wish to discuss empathy and sympathy’s relevance to ethics, taking recent findings into account. In particular, I want to consider sympathy’s relation to the idea of a person’s good or well-being. It is obvious and uncontroversial that sympathetic concern for a person involves some concern for her good and some desire to promote it. What I want to suggest is that the concept of a person’s good or well-being is one we have because we are capable (...) of care and sympathetic concern. Well-being is normative for care in the sense that it is intrinsic to the very idea of a person’s good that threats to it are what it makes sense to be concerned about for that person for her sake. (shrink)
Stephen Darwall presents a series of essays that explore the view that morality is second-personal, entailing mutual accountability and the authority to address demands. He illustrates the power of the second-personal framework to illuminate a wide variety of issues in moral, political, and legal philosophy.
A central theme of Kant’s approach to moral philosophy is that moral obligations are categorical, by which he means that they provide supremely authoritative reasons for acting independently of an agent’s ends or interests. Kant argues that this is a reflection of our distinctive freedom or autonomy, as he calls it, as moral agents. A less, well- appreciated aspect of the Kantian picture of morality and respect for the dignity of each individual person is the idea of reciprocal accountability, that (...) moral agents are mutually responsible for their treatment of one another. Viewing Kant’s ethics from this second-person standpoint opens up a line of thought that promises to vindicate the Kantian idea that moral obligations are categorical imperatives. (shrink)
It is a commonplace that ‘autonomy’ has several different senses in contemporary moral and political discussion. The term’s original meaning was political: a right assumed by states to administer their own affairs. It was not until the nineteenth century that ‘autonomy’ came (in English) to refer also to the conduct of individuals, and even then there were, as now, different meanings.1 Odd as it may seem from our perspective, one that was in play from the beginning was Kant’s notion of (...) “autonomy of the will,”2 as Kant deﬁned it, “the property of the will by which it is a law to itself independently of any property of the objects of volition” (4:440).3That’s a mouthful, to say the least. And interpreting.. (shrink)
Recent work in moral philosophy has emphasized the foundational role played by interpersonal accountability in the analysis of moral concepts such as moral right and wrong, moral obligation and duty, blameworthiness, and moral responsibility (Darwall 2006; 2013a; 2013b). Extending this framework to the field of moral psychology, we hypothesize that our moral attitudes, emotions, and motives are also best understood as based in accountability. Drawing on a large body of empirical evidence, we argue that the implicit aim of the central (...) moral motives and emotions is to hold people - whether oneself or others - accountable for compliance with the demands of morality. Moral condemnation is based in a motive to get perpetrators to hold themselves accountable for their wrongdoing, not, as is commonly supposed, a mere retributive motive to make perpetrators suffer (�2). And moral conscience is based in a genuine motive to hold oneself accountable for behaving in accordance with moral demands, not, as is commonly supposed, a mere egoistic motive to appear moral to others (�3). The accountability-based theory of the moral motives and emotions we offer provides better explanations of the extant empirical data than any of the major alternative theories of moral motivation. Moreover, conceiving of moral psychology in this way gives us a new and illuminating perspective on what makes morality distinctive: its essential connection to our practice of holding one another accountable (�4). (shrink)
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Why is ethics part of philosophy? Stephen Darwall's Philosophical Ethics introduces students to ethics from a distinctively philosophical perspective, one that weaves together central ethical questions such as "What has value?" and "What are our moral obligations?" with fundamental philosophical issues such as "What is value?" and "What can a moral obligation consist in?"With one eye on contemporary discussions and another on classical texts,Philosophical Ethics shows how Hobbes, Mill, Kant, Aristotle, and Nietzsche all did ethical philosophy how, for example, they (...) sought to gain insight into what has value through understanding what value itself is. After an introductory section, and one on main approaches to metaethics, chapters discuss "modern" philosophical moralists Hobbes, Mill, and Kant and pre- and postmodern philosophical approaches to ethics in Aristotle, Nietzsche, and the ethics of care. Throughout, the reader is invited to do rather than just read about philosophical ethics and, in doing so, to think through questions that face all thoughtful human beings. Themes include the nature of value and moral obligation, freedom and choice, human flourishing, excellence and merit, radical critiques of morality, and the importance of relationships for human life. (shrink)
Jonathan Dancy’s Practical Reality makes a significant contribution to clarifying the relationship between desire and reasons for acting, both the normative reasons we seek in deliberation and the motivating reasons we cite in explanation. About the former, Dancy argues that, not only are normative reasons not all grounded in desires, but, more radically, the fact that one desires something is never itself a normative reason. And he argues that desires fail to figure in motivating reasons also, concluding that neither the (...) fact nor the state of desire is ever a motivating reason for acting. I am in significant agreement with Dancy about these matters, but I want to register some reservations nonetheless. Dancy is certainly right to reject the DBR (desire-based reasons) thesis that all normative reasons are grounded in desires.1 Desires, he points out, call for reasons no less than do actions. But I think he insufficiently appreciates a way in which facts about the agent’s desires and related practical psychic states can provide normative reasons. Not that this gives away anything to Dancy’s Humean opponents. What gives an agent’s desires, values, and moral convictions normative weight, I shall suggest, is her dignity and integrity as an individual person. (shrink)
Principia Ethica set the agenda for analytical metaethics. Moore’s unrelenting focus on fundamentals both brought metaethics into view as a potentially separate area of philosophical inquiry and provided a model of the analytical techniques necessary to pursue it.1 Moore acknowledged that he wasn’t the ﬁrst to insist on a basic irreducible core of all ethical concepts. Although he seems not to have appreciated the roots of this thought in eighteenth-century intuitionists like Clarke, Balguy, and Price, not to mention sentimentalists like (...) Hutcheson and Hume, Moore gave full marks to Sidgwick. According to Moore, Sidgwick was the “only . . . ethical writer” to have clearly seen the irreducibility of ethics’ deﬁning notion.2 Nevertheless, twentieth-century meta-. (shrink)
How can an agent's desire or will give him reasons for acting? Not long ago, this might have seemed a silly question, since it was widely believed that all reasons for acting are based in the agent's desires. The interesting question, it seemed, was not how what an agent wants could give him reasons, but how anything else could. In recent years, however, this earlier orthodoxy has increasingly appeared wrongheaded as a growing number of philosophers have come to stress the (...) action-guiding role of reasons in deliberation from the agent's point of view. What a deliberating agent has in view is rarely his own will or desires as such, even if taking something as a reason is intimately tied to desire. Someone who wants to escape a burning building does not evaluate her options by considering which is likeliest to realize what she wants or wills. She is focused, rather, on her desire's object: getting out alive. The fact that a successful route would realize something she wants is apt to strike her as beside the point or, at best, as a trivial bonus. (shrink)
Derek Parfit's Reasons and Persons (1984) mounted a striking defense of Act Consequentialism against a Rawls-inspired Kantian orthodoxy in moral philosophy. On What Matters (2011) is notable for its serious engagement with Kant's ethics and for its arguments in support of the “Triple Theory,” which allies Rule Consequentialism with Kantian and Scanlonian Contractualism against Act Consequentialism as a theory of moral right. This critical notice argues that what underlies this change is a view of the deontic concept of moral rightness (...) that ties it closely to blameworthiness and accountability in a way that effectively concedes a Rawlsian publicity condition. It is also argued that Parfit's arguments that Kantian and Scanlonian Contractualism entail Rule Consequentialism can be resisted. Two elements of Parfit's metaethics are critically discussed. First, concerning Parfit's arguments against subjectivist theories of practical reason, it is argued that a form of subjectivist theory exists that is not only consistent with Parfit's claim that all reasons for acting are object rather than state given, but that can support that claim. Second, it is argued that Parfit's arguments against identifying normative with natural statements and facts do not transfer seamlessly to identifying normative with natural properties. (shrink)
have come in for increasing attention and controversy. A good example would be recent debates about moral realism where question of the relation between ethics (or ethical judgment) and the will has come to loom large.' Unfortunately, however, the range of positions labelled internalist in ethical writing is bewilderingly large, and only infrequently are important distinctions kept clear.2 Sometimes writers have in mind the view that sincere assent to a moral (or, more generally, an ethical) judgment concerning what one should (...) do is necessarily connected to motivation (actual or dispositional).s This necessity may be conceptual, or perhaps metaphysical, the thought being.. (shrink)
Is the fact that an action would be wrong itself a reason not to perform it? Warranted attitude accounts of value suggest about value, that being valuable is not itself a reason but to the reasons for valuing something in which its value consists. Would a warranted attitude account of moral obligation and wrongness, not entail, therefore, that being morally obligatory or wrong gives no reason for action itself? I argue that this is not true. Although warranted attitude theories of (...) normative concepts entail buck-passing with respect to reasons for the specific attitudes that are inherently involved in the concept, the concepts of moral obligation and wrong are normative not in the first instance for action, but for a distinctive set of attitudes (Strawsonian ) through which we hold ourselves and one another answerable for our actions. On this analysis, moral obligations are demands we legitimately make as representative persons, and the fact that an act would violate such a demand, and so disrespect the authority these demands presuppose, is indeed a reason not to perform the wrongful act that is additional to whatever features make the act wrong. (shrink)
In what follows I consider whether the idea of a person's interest or good might be better understood through that of care or concern for that person for her sake, rather than conversely, as is ordinarily assumed. Contrary to desire-satisfaction theories of interest, such an account can explain why not everything a person rationally desires is part of her good, since what a person sensibly wants is not necessarily what we would sensibly want, insofar as we care about her. First, (...) however, a tale: There was no other explanation which seemed reasonable. … [W]as it not reasonable to assume that he meant never to claim his birth-right? If this were so, what right had he, William Cecil Clayton, to thwart the wishes, to balk the self-sacrifice of this strange man? If Tarzan of the Apes could do this thing to save Jane Porter from unhappiness, why should he, to whose care she was intrusting her whole future, do aught to jeopardize her interests? (shrink)
Beginning from an analysis of moral obligation's form that I defend in The Second-Person Standpoint as what we are answerable for as beings with the necessary capacities to enter into relations of mutual accountability, I argue that this analysis has implications for moral obligation's substance. Given what it is to take responsibility for oneself and hold oneself answerable, I argue, it follows that if there are any moral obligations at all, then there must exist a basic pro tanto obligation not (...) to undermine one another's moral autonomy. (shrink)
Contractualism/Contractarianism collects, for the first time, both major classical sources and central contemporary discussions of these important approaches to philosophical ethics. Edited and introduced by Stephen Darwall, these readings are essential for anyone interested in normative ethics.
Joseph Raz's 'normal justification thesis' is that the normal way of justifying someone's claim to authority over another person is that the latter would comply better with the reasons that apply to him anyway were he to treat the former's directives as authoritative. Darwall argues that this provides 'reasons of the wrong kind' for authority. He turns then to Raz's claim that the fact that treating someone as an authority would enable one to comply better with reasons that apply to (...) him anyway can ground the claim that the putative authority's directives provide 'pre-emptive' and 'exclusionary reasons' for acting. Raz is right that authoritative directives create such reasons, but that is because genuine authority entails accountability for compliance. Practical authority is internal to the concepts of authority and legitimate demand, and the pre-emptive and exclusionary character of reasons created by legitimate demands cannot be understood independently of their second-personal character. (shrink)
Punishment and Reparations are sometimes held to express retaliatory emotions whose object is to strike back against a victimizer. I begin by examining a version of this idea in Mill's writings about natural resentment and the sense of justice in Chapter V of Utilitarianism. Mill's view is that the ?natural? sentiment of resentment or ?vengeance? that is at the heart of the concept of justice is essentially retaliatory, therefore has ?nothing moral in it,? and so must be disciplined or moralized (...) from without by the desire to promote the general welfare. I argue to the contrary that if ?reactive attitudes? like resentment and moral blame are understood as Strawson analyzed them, as essentially ?interpersonal? or ?second personal?, they have a different content and function. They implicitly demand respect in a way that also expresses respect for the victimizer as a member of mutually accountable community of moral equals. Some implications of this idea are discussed for the ?expressive theory of punishment? and ?civil recourse? theories of torts. (shrink)
Consequentialism collects, for the first time, both the main classical sources and the central contemporary expressions of this important position. Edited and introduced by Stephen Darwall, these readings are essential for anyone interested in normative ethics.
What is it for two or more people to be with one another or together? And what role do empathic psychological processes play, either as essential constituents or as typical elements? As I define it, to be genuinely with each other, persons must be jointly aware of their mutual openness to mutual relating. This means, I argue, that being with is a second-personal phenomenon in the sense I discuss in The Second-Person Standpoint. People who are with each other are in (...) one another's presence, where the latter is a matter of second-personal standing or authority, as in the divine presence or in the king's presence. To be with someone is, therefore, to give the other second-personal standing, implicitly, to claim it for oneself and, thus, to enter into a relation of mutual accountability. Second-personal relating, I argue, requires a distinctive form of empathy, projective empathy, through which we imaginatively occupy others' perspectives and view ourselves as if from their point of view. Projective empathy is thus an essential constituent of “being with.” But it is not the only form of empathy that being with typically involves. Further, I discuss ways in which emotional contagion, affect attunement, as well as projective empathy typically enter into the complex psychological (and ethical) phenomenon of being with another person. (shrink)
What are ethical judgments about? And what is their relation to practice? How can ethical judgment aspire to objectivity? The past two decades have witnessed a resurgence of interest in metaethics, placing questions such as these about the nature and status of ethical judgment at the very center of contemporary moral philosophy. Moral Discourse and Practice: Some Philosophical Approaches is a unique anthology which collects important recent work, much of which is not easily available elsewhere, on core metaethical issues. Naturalist (...) moral realism, once devastated by the charge of "naturalistic fallacy," has been reinvigorated, as have versions of moral realism that insist on the discontinuity between ethics and science. Irrealist, expressivist programs have also developed with great subtlety, encouraging the thought that a noncognivist account may actually be able to explain ethical judgments' aspirations to objectivity. Neo-Kantian constructivist theories have flourished as well, offering hope that morality can be grounded in a plausible conception of reasonable conduct. Together, the positions advanced in the essays collected here address these recent developments, constituting a rich array of approaches to contemporary moral philosophy's most fundamental debates. An extensive introduction by Darwall, Gibbard, and Railton is also included, making this volume the most comprehensive and up-to-date work of its kind. Moral Discourse is ideally suited for use in courses in contemporary ethics, ethical theory, and metaethics. (shrink)
Stephen Darwall expands upon his argument for a second-personal framework for morality, in which morality entails mutual accountability and the authority to address demands. He explores the role of the framework in relation to cultural ideas of respect and honor; the development of "modern" moral philosophy; and interpersonal relations.