Kantian Constructivism as Normative Ethics

Thomas E. Hill Jr.

in Virtue, Rules, and Justice

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199692002
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741241 | DOI:
Kantian Constructivism as Normative Ethics

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What would Kantian constructivism be like as a normative (not metaethical) theory that focused on ethical, not political questions? This chapter first reviews conceptions of the normative/metaethical distinction, general features of constructivism, and earlier versions of Kantian constructivism described by Rawls, O’Neill, and Hill. The chapter then highlights features of the normative ethical theory that Kant developed in his late work, the Doctrine of Virtue (The Metaphysics of Morals, Part II), proposing that this can be viewed as a normative ethical theory with constructivist features separable from the more ambitious metaethical claims in the prominent Kantian constructivisms of Rawls and O’Neill. When interpreted in this way the Doctrine of Virtue fits well with the constructivist normative theory suggested by Kant’s later formulations of the Categorical Imperative in the Groundwork. Finally, the chapter responds to some of Onora O’Neill’s objections to partially similar constructivisms proposed by Rawls.

Keywords: Kant; Kantian; constructivism; normative ethics; metaphysics of morals; Rawls; O’Neill; virtue

Chapter.  9144 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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