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9 The Logic of “Oughts” and the Bindingness of Past Practice: A Critique of Normative Judgment Internalism through a Reading of King Lear’s Act I

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Chapter Summary

Understanding what one ought to do underwrites the possibility of freedom for what Christina Korsgaard calls reflexive beings. Such beings exercise a capacity to reflect on their responsibilities, their acts and how the reciprocal relations between self-and-world are negotiated. This is as true in King Lear as it is in life itself. Ralph Wedgwood reflects a quietist attitude toward the distinction between prudential and moral recommendations for action. He argues that the binary fails to properly illuminate the logic of 'ought' as essentially normative, operating logically prior to narrowly construed moral or prudential consideration. What is being demanded is "demonstration", indeed, a display of filial piety towards the King who happens to be father. Wedgwood's defence of normative judgment internalism (NJI) is "exclusively concerned with normative judgments that is expressed by statements of the form 'A ought to φ', when the term 'ought' is used in this general normative sense".

Keywords: filial piety; King Lear's Act I; logic of ought; normative judgment internalism (NJI); Ralph Wedgwood



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