Heidegger, Sociality, and Human Agency

European Journal of Philosophy 24 (2):417-451 (2016)
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Abstract
According to Heidegger's Being and Time, social relations are constitutive of the core features of human agency. On this view, which I call a ‘strong conception’ of sociality, the core features of human agency cannot obtain in an individual subject independently of social relations to others. I explain the strong conception of sociality captured by Heidegger's underdeveloped notion of ‘being-with’ by reconstructing Heidegger's critique of the ‘weak conception’ of sociality characteristic of Kant's theory of agency. According to a weak conception, sociality is a mere aggregation of individual subjects and the core features of human agency are built into each individual mind. The weak conception of sociality remains today widely taken for granted. I show that Christine Korsgaard, one of the most creative contemporary appropriators of Kant, operates with a weak conception of sociality and that this produces a problematic explanatory deficiency in her view: she is unable to explain the peculiar motivational efficacy of shared social norms. Heidegger's view is tailor made to explain this phenomenon. I end by sketching how Heidegger provides a social explanation of a major systematic concern animating Korsgaard, the concern with the importance of individual autonomy and answerability in human life.
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Archival date: 2018-06-13
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