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Jack Samuel
New York University
  1. An Individual Reality, Separate From Oneself: Alienation and Sociality in Moral Theory.Jack Samuel - 2021 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
    I argue that the social dimension of alienation, as discussed by Williams and Railton, has been underappreciated. The lesson typically drawn from their exchange is that moral theory poses a threat to the internal integrity of the agent, but there is a parallel risk that moral theory will implicitly construe agents as constitutively alienated from one another. I argue that a satisfying account of agency will need to make room for what I call ‘genuine ethical contact’ with others, both as (...)
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  2. The Right and the Wren.Christa Peterson & Jack Samuel - 2021 - In David Shoemaker (ed.), Oxford Studies in Agency and Responsibility 7. Oxford University Press. pp. 81-103.
    Metaethical constructivism aims to explain morality’s authority and relevance by basing it in agency, in a capacity of the creatures who are in fact morally bound. But constructivists have struggled to wring anything recognizably moral from an appropriately minimal conception of agency. Even if they could, basing our reasons in our individual agency seems to make other people reason-giving for us only indirectly. This paper argues for a constructivism based on a social conception of agency, on which our capacity to (...)
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  3. Thin as a Needle, Quick as a Flash: Murdoch on Agency and Moral Progress.Jack Samuel - 2021 - Review of Metaphysics 75 (2):345-373.
    Iris Murdoch’s The Sovereignty of Good—especially the first essay, “The Idea of Perfection”—is often associated with a critique of a certain picture of agency and its proper place in ethical thought. There is implicit in this critique, however, an alternative, much richer one. I propose a reading of Murdochian agency in terms of the continuous activity of cultivating and refining a distinctive practical standpoint, and I apply this reading to her account of moral progress. For Murdoch moral progress depends on (...)
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  4. Alienation and the Metaphysics of Normativity: On the Quality of Our Relations with the World.Jack Samuel - forthcoming - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy.
    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; (...)
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  5.  72
    Toward a Post-Kantian Constructivism.Jack Samuel - forthcoming - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy.
    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, (...)
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