Valuing humanity: Kierkegaardian worries about Korsgaardian transcendental arguments

International Journal of Philosophy and Theology 80 (4-5):424-442 (2019)
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This paper draws out from Kierkegaard’s work a distinctive critical perspective on an influential contemporary approach in moral philosophy: namely, Christine Korsgaard’s transcendental argument for the value of humanity. From Kierkegaard’s perspective, we argue, Korsgaard argument goes too far, in attributing absolute value to humanity – but also that she is required to make this claim if her transcendental argument is to work. From a Kierkegaardian perspective, to place this sort of value in humanity is problematic since it threatens to make the relation between individuals too claustrophobic. Finally, we explore the possibility of a rival approach, in which we should view others as ethically significant because they too are related to the kind of ‘third’ which Kierkegaard argues is needed to bring stability to the structure of the self. In this way, we claim, a different and more successful transcendental argument to the value of humanity can be found in the work of Kierkegaard.



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Author Profiles

Daniel Watts
University of Essex
Robert Stern
University of Sheffield

References found in this work

Religion in the Public Sphere.Jürgen Habermas - 2006 - European Journal of Philosophy 14 (1):1-25.
The problem of Kierkegaard's socrates.Daniel Watts - 2017 - Res Philosophica (4):555-579.
Bodily awareness, imagination, and the self.Joel Smith - 2006 - European Journal of Philosophy 14 (1):49-68.
Propositions about Reasons.John Skorupski - 2006 - European Journal of Philosophy 14 (1):26-48.

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