Heidegger, Sociality, and Human Agency

European Journal of Philosophy 24 (2):417-451 (2016)
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According to Heidegger's Being and Time, social relations are constitutive of the core features of human agency. On this view, which I call a ‘strong conception’ of sociality, the core features of human agency cannot obtain in an individual subject independently of social relations to others. I explain the strong conception of sociality captured by Heidegger's underdeveloped notion of ‘being-with’ by reconstructing Heidegger's critique of the ‘weak conception’ of sociality characteristic of Kant's theory of agency. According to a weak conception, sociality is a mere aggregation of individual subjects and the core features of human agency are built into each individual mind. The weak conception of sociality remains today widely taken for granted. I show that Christine Korsgaard, one of the most creative contemporary appropriators of Kant, operates with a weak conception of sociality and that this produces a problematic explanatory deficiency in her view: she is unable to explain the peculiar motivational efficacy of shared social norms. Heidegger's view is tailor made to explain this phenomenon. I end by sketching how Heidegger provides a social explanation of a major systematic concern animating Korsgaard, the concern with the importance of individual autonomy and answerability in human life.



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B. Scot Rousse
University of California, Berkeley

Citations of this work

Self‐awareness and self‐understanding.B. Scot Rousse - 2019 - European Journal of Philosophy 27 (1):162-186.
Care, Death, and Time in Heidegger and Frankfurt.B. Scot Rousse - 2016 - In Roman Altshuler & Michael Sigrist (eds.), Time and the Philosophy of Action. New York: Routledge. pp. 225-241.
Disordered existentiality: Mental illness and Heidegger’s philosophy of Dasein.Schmid Jelscha - 2018 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 17 (3):485-502.
Agency in Social Context.John Lawless - 2017 - Res Philosophica 94 (4):471-498.

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References found in this work

Phenomenology of Perception.Maurice Merleau-Ponty - 1962 - New York: Routledge. Edited by Donald A. Landes.
The sources of normativity.Christine M. Korsgaard - 1996 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Onora O'Neill.

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