The Argument from Agency

Christian F. R. Illies

in The Grounds of Ethical Judgement

Published in print July 2003 | ISBN: 9780198238324
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191679612 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Philosophical Monographs

The Argument from Agency

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This chapter examines a transcendental argument developed by Alan Gewirth. Gewirth's ‘Dialectically Necessary Method’ is designed to provide a justification for fundamental moral principles on the basis of the implications of human agency. According to Gewirth, all agents are committed to making some moral judgements on the basis of what is necessarily involved in their actions. Gewirth's aim is not to detect factual judgements about the structure of agency, but right from the beginning to detect judgements about the way agents must place positive value in the world. His attempt to found ethics on the implications of agency is the focus of this chapter. To determine whether Gewirth provides a basis for the foundation of moral realism, this chapter first gives a brief account of his reasoning. Moral realism and the argument from agency are discussed and a critique of the argument from agency is presented. Gewirth's objectivation principle is also explored.

Keywords: Alan Gewirth; moral realism; transcendental argument; agency; ethics; argument from agency; objectivation principle; moral principles; moral judgements

Chapter.  16185 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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