What Would a Deontic Logic of Internal Reasons Look Like?

Symposion: Theoretical and Applied Inquiries in Philosophy and Social Sciences 3 (4):351-373 (2016)
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Abstract

The so-called ‘central problem’ of internalism has been formulated like this: one cannot concurrently maintain the following three philosophical positions without inconsistency: internalism about practical reason, moral rationalism, and moral absolutism. Since internalism about practical reason is the most controversial of these, the suggestion is that it is the one that is best abandoned. In this paper, I point towards a response to this problem by sketching a deontic logic of internal reasons that deflates moral normativity to the normativity of instrumental rationality, and provides support for the assertion that one can hold fast simultaneously to internalism and at least many of the intuitive commitments of liberal moral thinking. Crucial to the proposal is an account of the enkratic principle – I ought to attempt to realise what I ultimately desire – as the source of obligations we owe to ourselves. I attempt to show how from this, in conjunction with some plausible assumptions, obligations to others might be derived.

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