Department of Ethics, Social and Political Philosophy
From Kantian Constructivism to Korsgaardian Constitutivism
‘Why should I be moral?' This is the normative question that any moral theory should be able to answer in a convincing way according to Christine Korsgaard. It is exactly this question that H.A. Prichard famously targets in his article Does Moral Philosophy Rest on a Mistake? (1912). It not not surprising that critics have blamed Korsgaard for succumbing to what has become known as `the Prichardian challenge'. Korsgaard's critics believe that since the agent who asks the question is clearly not under the influence of morality we need to provide non-moral reasons to answer his question. It is at this point that Prichard's challenge kicks in: As soon as we try to give non-moral reasons to act morally - reasons that derive from some kind of self-interest - then morality loses its moral character. For acting morally precisely consists in not acting from self-interest.
In my thesis I defend Korsgaard against the interpretation that her theory aims to convince a non-moral agent into morality. I argue that interpreting the normative question differently, will open up space for a different answer. In my view, the fact that the agent asks the moral question is not a symptom of him being amoral, but of his morality. It is Korsgaard’s aim to explain why we have values in such a way that from the agent’s perspective it seems worthwhile to act on them. She does this by defending what she calls a constitutivist approach to morality. This is the view that morality already is an inherent part of the human perspective; that it is constitutive of who we are.
|Last modified:||15 September 2016 3.18 p.m.|