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Evaluate Korsgaard's discussion of the Universalizability Argument. In what ways does she conform with Kant and in what ways does she deviate? Do you think her argument is successful?

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Introduction

Contemporary Ethical Theory Alvin Aguilar Sario May 14, 2004 Evaluate Korsgaard's discussion of the Universalizability Argument. In what ways does she conform with Kant and in what ways does she deviate? Do you think her argument is successful? Christine Korsgaard argued for the universalizability of moral principles based on the notion of autonomy and categorical imperative as employed by Kant. He further argued that autonomy is the source of obligation and moral identity dictates moral obligations. He first assumed that morality is grounded in human nature. He arrived at this through a critique of voluntarism, realism, and reflective endorsement. Korsgaard is largely Kantian in this respect as she extrapolates on the sources of normativity. Affirming the significance of reflective endorsement vis-�-vis to endorse a desire based on reason or to reject it and get obligation, she focuses on the crucial role and relations of human identity (moral identity/practical identity), human will (categorical imperative), and moral law (laws of the kingdom of Ends). Universalizability as an issue poses a certain problem, is it possible and is there a need to universalize moral principles, and on what sources and grounds are we to universalize such principles and laws? Korsgaard tries to have answers by remaining fidel to the Kantian ideas. If a person decides that his desire is a reason to act, he must decide that, and in reflection he endorses that desire. The problem is, on what basis the person will decide to endorse or not to endorse such desire. This poses the problem on the human will. Kant defines free will as a rational causality which is effective without being determined by any alien cause such as desires and inclinations of the person. If it is not something that is determined, then, it is self-determining. But free will is causal and therefore operates under certain laws. The will is rational so the will must act for reasons of its own. ...read more.

Middle

He endorses or rejects his impulses by determining whether they are consistent with the ways he identifies himself it is a reason he has only if he treats humanity as practical, normative form of identity. He must value himself if he is to value anything at all. And if he has to have practical identity, he must recognize himself to have moral identity. To treat his human identity as normative which is a source of reasons and obligations is to have moral identity. Among the many things that he is, he is a Citizen of the Kingdom of Ends. Practical identity is horizontal; moral identity is vertical. Practical identity is the overall social contingent roles and identity one has and therefore includes duties and obligations as son/daughter, father/mother, Christian/Muslim, professional/non-professional, teacher/student, politician/religious, etc. Every status indicates a set of duties and obligations one has to perform in the honor of those identities. Who one is can be answered in the light of his social positions. In this sense, we can say that one is defined by his particular ties and commitments. Practical identity is an ocean of social labels. No one can escape these names since his very identity as a person is characterized by such labels. Practical identity is a social psychology. Moral identity is a universal identity since it is an identity that underlies all aspects of social identity. Since all social roles reside in a person, the very fundamental identity then is the identity as being a person, being a human person capable of reflection looking for universal principles for the Kingdom of Ends as its participants and citizens, in other words, being human as such or being a humanity in and for itself. Moral identity serves as the repository for all other social identity. Lexical ordering is a must here. A certain kind of prioritization should be set. Since moral identity grounds all practical identity, in case of conflict, moral identity is in and should be in the first-order arrangement. ...read more.

Conclusion

It even calls for objective notions of good and bad. Since one cannot but to exist with others and that these others are also looking for objective set of reasons to affirm their identity as human persons, men are to find ways to a reconstruction of morals and ethics. Any notion of perfection of himself is also projected to the rest of humanity. How to go about this is difficult to ascertain. One way could be in a form of dialectics. One has to continuously converse with others and project his sentiments and ideas until the best idea comes out, or one has to continuously project his 'totality' to the 'other' and the case is mutual until a certain level of consensus is reached. It is through dialectics or dialogue that things are clarified, common grounds are established, differences are recognized and resolved, and a certain level of meeting of minds or fusion of horizons, to borrow the language of Gadamer, is possible. One way could also be by following the maxims expressed in the categorical imperative of Kant. The main point actually is that the need to be moral concerns not only the 'I' but also the 'Other'; in Filipino Philosophy, the analytic of 'loob' and 'labas' relation. Regardless of the so many ways we put them, ethics posits metaphysics and epistemology of our existence. It looks for an objective life of truth and meaning. I am pushed to think that politics is one better form of ethics because the public life is not and supposedly should not be alien to ethics. The value of justice, which is one of the objects of excellence and perfection, is greatly seen and discussed and deliberated in the arena of politics. The main thesis of this whole discourse to be moral is to consider this human world of ours to live a happy and meaning-full life, and that self-actualization a public matter, and therefore morality concerns the 'participation' of all human beings. Why should I be moral? The question is tough and complex. ...read more.

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