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Neo-Kantian constructivism and metaethics

Surgener, Kirk (2012)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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Christine Korsgaard has attempted to defend a distinct approach to metaethics – Neo-Kantian Constructivism. Not only does she present a positive case for her own view, she also attacks existing metaethical positions and even the disctinctions that metaethics has traditionally relied on. This thesis is a sustained examination of this position. I consider whether Korsgaard can legitimately claim to be offering a metaethical position at all, providing her with some defence against the scepticism of some metaethicists. I also examine her attacks on traditional metaethical positions (in particular moral realism and expressivism). I argue that her attack on moral realism can be avoided if the realism on offer takes a particular form. In the case of expressivism I claim that Korsgaard’s attack, though not fully developed in her work, motivates an examination of contemporary hybrid-expressivist theories. I argue that these are, as of yet, no advance over their non-hybrid cousins. Finally I examine Korsgaard’s own position, attempting to make it clearer by combining her claims with a framework developed by Crispin Wright for judgement-dependent qualities. This gives Korsgaard her best chance of a distinctive metaethical position. Ultimately, though, the Neo-Kantian approach to morality fails.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Miller, Alex
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
Department:Department of Philosophy
Subjects:B Philosophy (General)
BJ Ethics
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:3298
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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