Chapter

Autonomy and Efficacy

Christine M. Korsgaard

in Self-Constitution

Published in print March 2009 | ISBN: 9780199552795
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191720550 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199552795.003.0005
 Autonomy and Efficacy

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According to the account defended in the previous chapter, Kant's categorical and hypothetical imperatives are constitutive principles of action. This chapter substantiates that claim by explaining action as an autonomous and efficacious movement. Conformity to the categorical imperative renders you autonomous, and conformity to the hypothetical imperative renders you efficacious. These ideas give rise to a problem, since non-human animals also act, but are not bound by imperatives. The chapter constructs an Aristotelian account of action with a view to explaining what is common to human and animal agents and why we attribute actions to agents. It then identifies the feature that explains the human subjection to imperatives. Every agent must be the cause of her own movements, but a human agent, when she chooses actions, chooses the principles of her own causality. That feature of human choice makes us subject to rational imperatives.

Keywords: action; animal; Aristotle; attribute; autonomy; categorical imperative; causality; efficacy; hypothetical imperative; movement

Chapter.  13470 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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