Schmidtz on Moral Recognition Rules: A Critique

Theoria 83 (2):138-153 (2016)
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David Schmidtz's reconstruction of morality advances Hart-type recognition rules for a “personal” and an “interpersonal” strand of morality. I argue that his view does not succeed for reasons owed both to the way in which Schmidtz construes of the task of reconstructing morality and the content of the moral recognition rules that he proposes. For Schmidtz, this task must be approached from a Hart-type “internal” perspective, but this leaves his reconstruction with an unresolved problem of parochiality. He reconstructs morality as a pursuit of the aim of the flourishing of individuals as reflectively rational agents. However, while it is plausible to see reflective rationality as a good, it does not seem to be a morally fundamental good. Ways to instantiate or pursue it depend for their moral value on other, more fundamental moral values that are beyond the normative space mapped by Schmidtz's moral recognition rules.

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Thomas M. Besch
Wuhan University


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