Kantian constructivism as normative ethics

Thomas E. Hill, Jr.

in Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics, Volume 1

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199693269
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191732058 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies In Normative Ethics

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? First this paper reviews conceptions of the normative/metaethical distinction, general features of constructivism, and the versions of Kantian constructivism described by Rawls, O’Neill, and Hill. It 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 that earlier the author drew from Kant’s later formulations of the Categorical Imperative in the Groundwork. Finally, the paper responds to some of O’Neill’s objections to Rawls’ constructivisms that would apply as well to the author’s project.

Keywords: constructivism; Kant; Rawls; O’Neill; normative ethics; metaethics; realism; Categorical Imperative; Groundwork; Doctrine of Virtue

Chapter.  9385 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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