Toward a Post-Kantian Constructivism

Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 9 (53):1449–1484 (2023)
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The conventional wisdom regarding the aims and shortcomings of Kantian constructivism is mistaken. The aim of metaethical constructivism is not to provide a naturalistic account of the objectivity of normative facts by deriving substantive morality from a conception of agency so thin as to be uncontroversial (a task at which it is generally regarded to have failed). Its aim is to explain the “grip” that normative facts have on us—to avoid what I call the problem of normative alienation. So understood, Kantian constructivism faces two problems: that determinate normative facts cannot be derived from agency and that its individualistic conception of agency cannot account for the sociality of morality. I propose and elaborate a social conception of agency that is better able to address the latter problem while still avoiding normative alienation, and evaluate two different strategies for responding to the former problem.

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Jack Samuel
New York University


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