Bipolar Obligation

Stephen Darwall

in Oxford Studies in Metaethics Volume 7

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780199653492
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741661 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Metaethics

Bipolar Obligation

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We speak both of moral obligations we owe to specific individuals (or groups) and moral obligations simpliciter or period. When we violate the latter, we do wrong; when we violate the former, we wrong the individuals (or group) to whom we owe the obligation. The Second-Person Standpoint offers a metaethics of moral obligation period in terms of warranted impersonal reactive attitudes and argue that the latter are irreducibly second personal because, following Strawson, they implicitly hold another answerable for complying with a putatively legitimate demand. Here, this chapter extends the account to provide a metaethics of bipolar obligations that links them in the right way to moral obligation period. At the bottom is a fundamental distinction between two distinct, but nonetheless linked, authorities we have as mutually accountable persons: a representative authority as a representative person or member of the moral community, on the one hand, and an individual authority we each have as the individual person we are.

Keywords: obligation; accountability; responsibility; reactive attitudes; bipolar obligation; authority

Chapter.  11034 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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