Alienation and the Metaphysics of Normativity: On the Quality of Our Relations with the World

Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 26 (1) (2023)
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I argue that metaethicists should be concerned with two kinds of alienation that can result from theories of normativity: alienation between an agent and her reasons, and alienation between an agent and the concrete others with whom morality is principally concerned. A theory that cannot avoid alienation risks failing to make sense of central features of our experience of being agents, in whose lives normativity plays an important role. The twin threats of alienation establish two desiderata for theories of normativity; however, I argue that they are difficult to jointly satisfy.

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Jack Samuel
New York University


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