Emotions and the Categorical Authority of Moral Reason

Carla Bagnoli

in Morality and the Emotions

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199577507
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731235 | DOI:
Emotions and the Categorical Authority of Moral Reason

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On a standard rationalist account, moral reasons apply to all rational agents as such, and bind us with categorical authority because their source is ‘pure’, that is, independent of anything contingent, including our emotions. By contrast, the standard sentimentalist account holds that moral reasons spring from emotions, denies their categoricity, and focuses on their motivational power. Both views fail to capture some important aspects of moral authority. This chapter argues that an adequate explanation of these aspects requires a different philosophical treatment of the role of emotions and their relation to practical reason. It argues for a Kantian account of practical reason, which takes respect as the emotional attitude constitutive of rational agency. On this view, moral reasons have categorical authority insofar as they are subjectively experienced in the guise of respect.

Keywords: emotion; reason; authority; motivation; morality; normativity; respect; recognition; Kant; J.S. Mill; neo-Kantians; neo-sentimentalists

Chapter.  10806 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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