Original Articles

Second-personal reasons: why we need something like them, but why there are actually no such things

Published in: South African Journal of Philosophy
Volume 31, issue 2, 2012 , pages: 328–339
DOI: 10.1080/02580136.2012.10751779
Author(s): Jessica LermPhilosophy Department, South Africa

Abstract

Stephen Darwall, in his book The Second-Person Standpoint (2006), has argued for an account of morality grounded in what he calls second-personal reasons. My first aim in this paper is to demonstrate the value of an account like Darwall’s; as I read it, it responds to the need for an account of morality as ‘intrinsic’ to the person. However, I go on to argue, as my second aim in this paper, that Darwall’s account is ultimately unsuccessful. I hope to achieve these aims by contrasting Darwall’s second-personal account with two other accounts, Hobbes’ and the neo-Kantians’. In the first case, I aim to show that Darwall’s account meets a need that the other accounts don’t in virtue of its differences from the other accounts; and in the second case, I aim to show that Darwall’s account ultimately fails in virtue of its residual similarities to at least one of them.

Get new issue alerts for South African Journal of Philosophy