European Journal of Philosophy

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Kantian constructivism and the authority of others


I argue that Christine Korsgaard's Kantian constructivism cannot accommodate our obligations to others. Because she holds that all of our obligations are grounded in our obligating ourselves, she is committed to the view that our obligations to others are grounded in corresponding obligations to ourselves. Yet this conclusion is objectionable on substantive moral grounds. The problem is that she embraces an egocentric conception of authority, on which we originally have the authority to obligate ourselves whereas others only have the authority to obligate us because we grant it to them. The solution is to adopt a more thoroughly social conception of authority and autonomy.

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