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The Grounds of Ethical JudgementNew Transcendental Arguments in Moral Philosophy$
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Christian Illies

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780198238324

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198238324.001.0001

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The Argument from Agency

The Argument from Agency

(p.93) Chapter 4 The Argument from Agency
The Grounds of Ethical Judgement

Christian F. R. Illies

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines a transcendental argument developed by Alan Gewirth. Gewirth's ‘Dialectically Necessary Method’ is designed to provide a justification for fundamental moral principles on the basis of the implications of human agency. According to Gewirth, all agents are committed to making some moral judgements on the basis of what is necessarily involved in their actions. Gewirth's aim is not to detect factual judgements about the structure of agency, but right from the beginning to detect judgements about the way agents must place positive value in the world. His attempt to found ethics on the implications of agency is the focus of this chapter. To determine whether Gewirth provides a basis for the foundation of moral realism, this chapter first gives a brief account of his reasoning. Moral realism and the argument from agency are discussed and a critique of the argument from agency is presented. Gewirth's objectivation principle is also explored.

Keywords:   Alan Gewirth, moral realism, transcendental argument, agency, ethics, argument from agency, objectivation principle, moral principles, moral judgements

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