Agency and the Foundations of Ethics: Nietzschean by Paul Katsafanas

By Paul Katsafanas

Paul Katsafanas explores how we'd justify normative claims as assorted as "murder is incorrect" and "agents have cause to take the capacity to their ends." He bargains an unique account of constitutivism--the view that we will justify sure normative claims by way of exhibiting that brokers turn into dedicated to them easily in advantage of acting--and argues that the sights of this view are substantial: constitutivism offers to solve longstanding philosophical puzzles concerning the metaphysics, epistemology, and functional grip of normative claims. the best problem for any constitutivist idea is constructing a perception of motion that's minimum sufficient to be independently believable, yet mammoth sufficient to yield powerful normative effects. Katsafanas argues that the present types of constitutivism fall brief in this ranking. besides the fact that, we will generate a profitable model via using a extra nuanced conception of motion. Drawing on fresh empirical paintings on human motivation in addition to a version of supplier indebted to the paintings of Nietzsche, Agency and the rules of Ethics argues that each episode of motion goals together at agential task and gear. An agent manifests agential task if she approves of her motion, and extra wisdom of the reasons figuring within the etiology of her motion wouldn't undermine this approval. An agent goals at energy if she goals at encountering and overcoming stumbling blocks or resistances during pursuing different, extra determinate ends. those structural gains of enterprise either represent occasions as activities and generate criteria of evaluate for motion. utilizing those effects, Katsafanas exhibits that we will derive important and infrequently astounding normative claims from evidence concerning the nature of agency.

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But is this warranted? On this point, Nietzschean critiques seem to me devastating. ” Nietzsche writes that “whoever ventures to answer” philosophical questions “by an appeal to a sort of intuitive perception, like the person who says, ‘I think, and know that this, at least, is true, actual, and certain’— will encounter a smile and two question marks from a philosopher nowadays. ’ ” (BGE 16). His point, here, is that genealogies 43 Old-fashioned moral realists, such as Reid, appealed to a “moral faculty”: he claimed “that by an original power of the mind, which we call conscience, or the moral faculty, we have the conceptions of right and wrong in human conduct, of merit and demerit, of duty and moral obligation, and our other moral conceptions; and that, by the same faculty, we perceive some things in human conduct to be right, and others to be wrong; that the first principles of morals are the dictates of this faculty; and that we have some reason to rely upon those dictates, as upon the determinations of our senses, or of our other natural faculties” (Reid 1983, 237).

We need to see something as non-arbitrarily structuring and constraining our choices. ) Nietzsche’s discussions of nihilism build on this point. He offers the following definition of nihilism: “What does nihilism mean? That the highest values devalue themselves. ’ finds no answer” (KSA 12:9[35]/WLN 146). In other words, the values that were formerly regarded as highest or most central are experienced as unsupportable. Nietzsche explains that “this realization is a consequence of the cultivation of truthfulness—thus itself a consequence of the faith in morality” (KSA 12:10[192]/WLN 205).

62 In this respect, the Humean and non-reductive realist projects can be seen as mirror images of one another: the Humean project of constructing morality through an examination of the conative states won’t inspire confidence in our normative claims, given that we can modify the conative states, and a non-reductive realist project of 59 The same point is made in the following passage: “whence come evaluations? Is their basis a firm norm, ‘pleasant’ or ‘painful’? But in countless cases we first make a thing painful by investing it with an evaluation” (KSA 10:24[15]).

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