How the Good Obligates in Hegel's Conception of Sittlichkeit: A Response to Robert Stern's Understanding Moral Obligation

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 55 (6):584-605 (2012)
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In Understanding Moral Obligation: Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Robert Stern argues that Hegel has a social command view of obligation. On this view, there is an element of social command or social sanction that must be added to a judgment of the good in order to bring about an obligation. I argue to the contrary that Hegel's conception of conscience, and thus the individual's role in obligation, is more central to his account than the social dimension. While agreeing with Stern that Hegel's conception of Sittlichkeit does preserve a role for obligation, and that the social plays an important part in that account, I argue that there is no extra social component that converts the morally good into obligation. Rather, Hegel's conception of Sittlichkeit as the “living good” means that judgments of the moral facts are simultaneously judgments of obligation.

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Dean Moyar
Johns Hopkins University

Citations of this work

A Reply to My Critics.Robert Stern - 2012 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 55 (6):622-654.

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References found in this work

Phenomenology of Spirit.Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel - 1977 - Oxford: Oxford University Press. Edited by Arnold V. Miller & J. N. Findlay.
Elements of the philosophy of right.Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel - 1991 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Allen W. Wood & Hugh Barr Nisbet.
Collected Works of John Stuart Mill.J. S. Mill - 1963 - [University of Toronto Press].
Understanding Moral Obligation: Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard.Robert Stern - 2011 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Hegel's Conscience.Dean Moyar - 2011 - , US: Oup Usa.

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