An Existential Objectivist Account of What Is Worth Caring About

John Davenport

in Will as Commitment and Resolve

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print July 2007 | ISBN: 9780823225750
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823235896 | DOI:
An Existential Objectivist Account               of What Is Worth Caring About

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This chapter develops the idea that an existential conception of the will as an end-setting and motivation-sustaining capacity is compatible with moderate objectivism about the values that give us reasons to set ends, initiate new projects, and form deep commitments. It begins with a review of the importance of this question about the nature of good lives for contemporary political philosophy, and then develops an existential response to Harry Frankfurt's subjectivist interpretation of the worth of what we care about. It argues that there must be non-arbitrary discernible grounds for caring and commitment with objective significance for all agents (against some forms of liberal neutralism), and that among these we find many “ethical” considerations in the broad classical sense, including truth, beauty, and aspects of human welfare. The chapter discusses Frankfurtian arguments for subjectivism and objectivist rebuttals, the relation between optionality and subjectivity, and Joseph Raz's analysis of essential particularity and subjectivity.

Keywords: Harry Frankfurt; will; caring; political philosophy; objectivism; subjectivism; optionality; Joseph Raz; commitment

Chapter.  22887 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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