The Sources of Normativity PDF ´ The Sources PDF or

The Sources of Normativity Ethical concepts are or purport to be normative They make claims on us they command oblige recommend or guide But where does their authority over us come from Christine Korsgaard identifies and examines four accounts of the source of normativity that have been advocated by modern moral philosophers voluntarism realism reflective endorsement and the appeal to autonomy and shows how Kant's autonomy based account emerges as a synthesis of the other three Her discussion is followed by commentary from GA Cohen Raymond Geuss Thomas Nagel and Bernard Williams and a reply by Korsgaard Korsgaard is a legend in modern ethics and meta ethics and this book is a pretty good illustration of why that is The arguments are succinct poignant and thoughtful; she considers a pretty wide range of possible views advanced throughout the 19th and 20th century ethics literature One of the challenges with the book and it does weigh a bit on my review of the book is that the language is often obscure and technical than it needs to be and dwells on a lot of references within the literature that give it the distinctive texture of academic writing To a certain extent that's just a convention in the discipline but it does really get in the way of some of the interesting ideasAs far as the important literature advancing Kantian ethics Korsgaard is one of the authors who best exemplifies the appeal of Kantian views in contrast to a lot of the modern conseuentialist writers like Parfit and Singer Further she defends the view in a way that is really close to the Kantian approach to argument focussing on the self as a rational agent and working from there to talk about moral norms and obligations This approach to argument and the fact that it is so succinct makes me think that Korsgaard is probably under read among a lot of modern ethicists; personally I would prefer using her work to talk about Kantian senses of obligations than a lot of the other writers and try to set her up as a foilLike a lot of what I read I wouldn't recommend the book to those outside of ethics However it is definitely something that I would bookmark for teaching an upper division undergraduate class at some point in the future Somewhere in the middle of this book you get the feeling that you may in fact be a Kantian Thankfully that goes away by the end but at that point you've been overwhelmed by the excellent commentaries by Cohen Guess and Williams and to a less extent Nagel although he mostly just confused me Philosophy should always be in lecture form and always be this exciting Korsgaard is attempting to develop a neo kantian ethic Interestingly enough she does this both analytically and dialectically Analytically in the sense that all her arguments are logical and always attempting to contain a valid form Dialectically in that she is trying to take the good side out of voluntarism emotivism realism etc and develop them in a Kantian direction Unfortunately the book largely fails in my opinionKorsgaard makes one too many logical leaps in the traditional callous Kantian sense of thinking just because someone does reason X they will and must do X Not they ought to do X they must and will This is a categorically different claim then the standard normative claim of one ought to do X and it is one that is demonstrable false But let's start at the beginning and watch the failure unfoldFirst of all Korsgaard wants to ask the normative uestion that is what justifies the claims morality makes on us Because this uestion is found in reflective thought the conclusion must be found there too That's a non seuitur Because our reflection distances us from the emotional and desirable route of action this means we must act for reasons Again a non seuitur I can rationally deliberate about X and still choose to take the purely emotional route I would have taken even if I had not deliberated For Korsgaard our universal human nature is what allows us to all act reflectively “Since you cannot act without reasons and your humanity is the source of your reasons you must value your own humanity if you are to act at all” This argument is valid but completely unsound; of course people can act without reasons Like a psychological egoist she is reading back into the action a mental framework that fits her theory but at the moment of action X it is not absolutely certain that the action was performed out of reason and not emotion moments of love and anxiety attest to thisThere are reasons to criticize this work but I might as well end hereIf you're interested in a neo kantian argument and one of the foremost neo kantians read her If you're not move along This book has two characteristics which makes it readable First the way that author cultivates her ideas through dealing with different theories of normativity Second the way in which she interprets works of some great philosophers such as Hume and Kant Further normative uestion which is introduced as the main uestion of the book is extraordinary useful to face various theories in ethics It could be used as a criterion for assessing other theories of normativity

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