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Korsgaard v. Gewirth on Universalization: Why Gewirthians are Kantians and Kantians Ought to be Gewirthians

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Christine Korsgaard claims that Gewirth’s argument for morality fails to demonstrate that there is a categorically binding principle on action because it operates with the assumption that reasons for action are essentially private. This attribution is unfounded and Korsgaard’s own argument for moral obligation, in its appeal to Wittgenstein’s Private Language Argument to establish that reasons for action are essentially public, is misdirected and unnecessary. Gewirth’s attempt to demonstrate a strictly a priori connection between a moral principle and the concept of being an agent as such is essentially Kantian, and recognizing that the Principle of Hypothetical Imperatives is categorically binding requires Kantians to accept that Gewirth’s Principle of Generic Consistency is the supreme practical principle.

Affiliations: 1: Professor of Law and Bioethics Durham University Professor of Moral Philosophy and Applied Ethics, University of Utrecht Durham Law School, Palatine Centre, Stockton Road, Durham DH1 3LE, UK,


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