The Normative Significance of Personal Projects

Chapter
Part of the Philosophical Studies Series book series (PSSP, volume 118)

Abstract

The paper addresses the role personal projects play in defining who we are and in generating specific personal reasons. It is argued that committing oneself to personal projects generates a distinct normative framework for oneself, irreducible to other reason-providing sources. Personal projects comprise three core elements: (i) they are norm-governed; (ii) they engender project-dependent reasons to pursue the project and its components non-instrumentally; and (iii) they shape one’s identity once one commits oneself to a project. Based on this explanation, the notion of personal projects is distinguished from competing sources of personal reasons and it is argued for the independence and irreducibility of personal projects. Unlike desires, committing oneself to personal projects involves valuing the project’s content and also emotional engagement which, in turn, confers authority—and not merely weight—to the reasons generated. In contrast to (life) plans, pursuing a personal project is not exhausted in realizing, step by step, a kind of blueprint for leading one’s life. Finally, personal projects differ from personal ideals in that they comprise more numerous and more concrete action-guiding reasons than “just” idealized social roles or virtues to live up to. The conclusion is, therefore, that personal projects present an independent and irreducible source of personal reasons.

Keywords

Action Type Personal Ideal Normative Significance Project Pursuit Personal Project 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

I am indebted to Susanne Boshammer, Sebastian Elliker, Christian Budnik, Nadja Jelinek, Michael Kühler, Christian Seidel and to those who participated in my colloquium on practical philosophy, held at Berne University (Switzerland), for their helpful written comments on an earlier version of this paper. I would also like to thank David Velleman and Samuel Scheffler for an extremely stimulating discussion of this paper. Many thanks also to Michael Kühler and Nadja Jelinek for having invited me to revisit my ideas on the normative significance of personal projects for this volume.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland

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