Coming to Terms with Contingency: Humean Constructivism about Practical Reason

Sharon Street

in Constructivism in Practical Philosophy

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199609833
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191741913 | DOI:
Coming to Terms with Contingency: Humean             Constructivism about Practical Reason

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Street defends a modest, Humean form of constructivism where an agent’s reasons depend on contingent features of what she happens to value against a more ambitious Kantian constructivism according to which substantive moral conclusions can be derived from a formal characterization of practical reason as such.After come critical discussion of Christine Korsgaard's argument for a form of Kantian constructivism, Street turns to consider the contingency that Humean constructivism entails for morality: “if one lacks moral concerns altogether, then morality doesn't bind one”. This contingency should not, she argues, undermine our ability to take morality seriously. Here Street makes two points. The first is that there is a sense in which it is not contingent that she is a moral agent. Her moral commitments are so fundamental a part of her evaluative nature that losing them would be a kind of death. The second is an analogy with love. It is a contingent matter who we love but appreciating that, does not mean we love them any less.

Keywords: constructivism; morality; normativity; Christine Korsgaard; contingency

Chapter.  11281 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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