Chapter

Self‐Constitution in the Ethics of Plato and Kant

Christine M. Korsgaard

in The Constitution of Agency

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780199552733
Published online January 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191720321 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199552733.003.0004
 Self‐Constitution in the Ethics of Plato and Kant

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Plato and Kant advance a “Constitutional Model” of the soul, in which reason and passion have different functional roles in the generation of motivation, as opposed to Hume's “Combat Model” in which they are portrayed as independent sources of motivation struggling for control. The Constitutional Model makes it possible to explain what makes an action different from an event. What makes an action attributable to a person and therefore what makes it an action, is that it issues from the person's constitution and therefore from the person as a whole, rather than from some force working on or in the person. This implies an account of what makes an action good: it is chosen in a way that unifies the person into a constitutional system. Platonic justice and Kant's categorical imperative are shown to be normative standards for action because they are internal standards of action.

Keywords: action; categorical imperative; combat; constitution; internal standard; justice; Kant; passion; Plato; reason

Chapter.  13765 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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