Agency and Practical Reason: A Consideration of Some Objections to Constitutivism

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Vriend, Justin
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University of Guelph

Constitutivism is a Kantian constructivist meta-ethical position which attempts to ground the authority of norms of practical reason in their embodiment of an aim which constitutes its bearers as agents (“agency’s constitutive aim”). David Enoch is skeptical of this position, arguing that agents might be alienated from agency’s constitutive aim such that it could not be a source of normative authority. “Agency and Practical Reason…” discusses three ways this alienated form of agency could be modeled (pretend agency, ironic agency, and compulsive agency) and articulates an account of constitutivism in which these models are incoherent or otherwise disarmed. This account draws on the work of David Velleman, Christine Korsgaard, Peter Railton, and especially Luca Ferrero. In advancing this account, this paper attempts to provide the best available constitutivist response to Enoch’s brand of skepticism.

constitutivism, constructivism, agency, practical reason, normativity, metaethics