Moral obligation stephen darwall, Lectures de Philosophie. Ecole Catholique d'Arts & Metiers
AVg2016
AVg201618 June 2016

Moral obligation stephen darwall, Lectures de Philosophie. Ecole Catholique d'Arts & Metiers

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PHILOSOPHY 451/651 MORAL OBLIGATION STEPHEN DARWALL

What is it for an act to be morally obligatory or, by contrast, to be morally wrong? Philosophers since Kant have tended to focus on the idea that moral duties are “categorical imperatives,” that they necessarily provide (or otherwise guarantee the existence of) reasons for acting that are inescapable and overriding. But what can ground this distinctive “normativity”? We will consider, first, Kant’s, and then, Christine Korsgaard’s attempts to ground it in unavoidable presuppositions of the “first person” practical standpoint, the perspective one takes up when deliberating about what to do. Next we will consider the idea that moral obligation is an irreducibly second-personal phenomenon. The key notion will be a putative conceptual connection between the ideas of moral obligation and moral wrong, on the one hand, and what P. F. Strawson called “reactive attitudes,” on the other: more specifically, that for an action to be morally wrong (contrary to moral obligation) is for it to be of a kind that would render the agent blameworthy were she to perform it without excuse. We will consider a systematic development of this idea in The Second-Person Standpoint, alongside some writings of Strawson, Gary Watson, and T. M. Scanlon about the nature of blame. Finally, we will consider The Second-Person Standpoint’s attempt to locate moral obligation within a theory of practical reason, together with more recent critical responses to the book. READINGS* Immanuel Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals (G) Christine Korsgaard, The Sources of Normativity (SN) Stephen Darwall, The Second-Person Standpoint: Morality, Respect, and Accountability (SPS) T. M. Scanlon, Moral Dimensions: Permissibility, Meaning, Blame (MD) REQUIREMENTS Those taking the course for credit will write 3 or 4 short discussions (due the Monday preceding the seminar on Tuesday evening) and a longer (3,000 to 5,000 words) essay (due by 11:59 pm on Monday, May 4. The paper can be on a topic of the student’s choosing, but topics should be cleared with me by April 14.) TENTATIVE SCHEDULE January 13 Kant, G, Section I

January 20 Kant, G, Section II-III

January 27 Korsgaard, SN, 1-89

February 3 Korsgaard, SN, 90-166

* Available through Labyrinth Books.

February 10** Darwall, SPS, 3-61

February 17 Darwall, SPS, 65-118 Strawson, “Freedom and Resentment” February 24 Scanlon, MD 1-7, 122-216

March 3 Darwall, SPS, 119-180

March 24 Darwall, SPS, 181-209 Darwall, “Demystifying Promises”

March 31 Darwall, SPS, 213-242, Rödel, “Darwall Contra Kant: Kant Defended” Korsgaard redux

April 7 Darwall, SPS, 243-299

April 14 Darwall, SPS, 300-320 Ethics symposium on SPS

April 21 loose threads Darwall, “But It Would Be Wrong”

My normal office hours will be Wednesday from 1 to 3 pm and by appointment. My office is 306 Connecticut Hall. My email address is: stephen.darwall@yale.edu

** This class will have to be scheduled at a different time.

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