Making the hard problem of moral normativity easier - Prof. Stephen Darwall
It is often assumed that it is easier to show that we have reason to do what is for our good or satisfies our desires than it is to show that we have reason to comply with morality. I argue, first, that when we think carefully about the nature of normative concepts and normative reasons, we can see that this is not true. I argue, second, that when we attend to morality's conceptual connection to justification for the distinctively second-personal attitude of moral blame, we can see that the reverse is true. An action can be morally wrong, and therefore such as would warrant blame (lacking excuse) only if there is normative reason to do what we are morally obligated to do.
STEPHEN DARWALL is Andrew Downey Orrick Professor of Philosophy at Yale University and John Dewey Distinguished University Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan. He has written widely on the history and foundations of ethics. His most important books include: Impartial Reason; The British Moralists and the Internal 'Ought': 1640-1740; Philosophical Ethics; Welfare and Rational Care; and The Second-Person Standpoint (2006). This year, Oxford University Press is publishing two volumes of his essays: Morality, Authority, and Law: Essays in Second-Personal Ethics I and Honor, History, and Relationship: Essays in Second-Personal Ethics II. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and, with David Velleman, founding co-editor of Philosophers' Imprint.