Categorical and Agent-neutral Reasons in Kantian Justifications of Morality
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- Huckfeldt, V.E. Philosophia (2007) 35: 23. doi:10.1007/s11406-007-9051-2
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The dispute between Kantians and Humeans over whether practical reason can justify moral reasons for all agents is often characterized as a debate over whether reasons are hypothetical or categorical. Instead, this debate must be understood in terms of the distinction between agent-neutral and agent-relative reasons. This paper considers Alan Gewirth’s Reason and Morality as a case study of a Kantian justification of morality focused on deriving categorical reasons from hypothetical reasons. The case study demonstrates first, the possibility of categorical agent-relative reasons, and second, that inattention to this possibility has caused considerable confusion in the debate between Kantians and Humeans.