Normativity and Interpersonal Reasons

O‘Day, Ken
March 1998
Ethical Theory & Moral Practice;Mar1998, Vol. 1 Issue 1, p61
Academic Journal
What is one who takes normativity seriously to do if normativity can neither be discovered lurking out there in the world independently of us nor can it be sufficiently grasped from a merely explanatory perspective? One option is to accept that the normative challenge cannot be met and to retreat to some form of moral skepticism. Another possibility has recently been proposed by Christine Korsgaard in The Sources of Normativity where she aims to develop an account of normativity which is grounded in autonomy. Furthermore, she argues that on her account reasons are "essentially public" and that this captures how it is that we can obligate one another. In this paper I argue that there is a serious tension between her account of normativity and the publicity of reasons-namely, that if reasons are essentially public, then it is not possible for individuals to legislate laws for themselves. However, I then argue that if we revise her conception of normativity such that it is understood to involve collective rather than individual legislation that it may then be possible to account for interpersonal reasons.


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