The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

The concept of moral obligation: Anscombe contra Korsgaard

The concept of moral obligation: Anscombe contra Korsgaard
The concept of moral obligation: Anscombe contra Korsgaard
A number of recent writers have expressed scepticism about the viability of a specifically moral concept of obligation, and some of the considerations offered have been interesting and persuasive. This is a scepticism that has its roots in Nietzsche, even if he is mentioned only rather rarely in the debate. More proximately, the scepticism in question receives seminal expression in Elizabeth Anscombe's 1958 essay, ‘Modern Moral Philosophy’, a piece that is often paid lip-service to, but—like Nietzsche's work—has only rarely been taken seriously by those wishing to defend the conception of obligation under attack. This is regrettable. Anscombe's essay is powerful and direct, and it makes a forthright case for the claim that, in the absence of a divine law conception of ethics, any specifically moral concept of obligation must be redundant, and that the best that can be hoped for in a secular age is some sort of neo-Aristotelianism. Anscombe is right about this, we think. And, among those who disagree, one of the very few to have taken her on at all explicitly is Christine Korsgaard, whose Kantianism of course commits her to the view that the concept of moral obligation is central, with or without God. Here, we try to show that Korsgaard loses the argument.
0031-8191
543-552
Alvarez, Maria
c49ee56c-9a0f-4bb4-9e91-1d4b0d48f461
Ridley, Aaron
64d82169-aa92-4352-975d-2ef8bb3f2cc7
Alvarez, Maria
c49ee56c-9a0f-4bb4-9e91-1d4b0d48f461
Ridley, Aaron
64d82169-aa92-4352-975d-2ef8bb3f2cc7

Alvarez, Maria and Ridley, Aaron (2007) The concept of moral obligation: Anscombe contra Korsgaard. Philosophy, 82 (4), 543-552. (doi:10.1017/S0031819107000149).

Record type: Article

Abstract

A number of recent writers have expressed scepticism about the viability of a specifically moral concept of obligation, and some of the considerations offered have been interesting and persuasive. This is a scepticism that has its roots in Nietzsche, even if he is mentioned only rather rarely in the debate. More proximately, the scepticism in question receives seminal expression in Elizabeth Anscombe's 1958 essay, ‘Modern Moral Philosophy’, a piece that is often paid lip-service to, but—like Nietzsche's work—has only rarely been taken seriously by those wishing to defend the conception of obligation under attack. This is regrettable. Anscombe's essay is powerful and direct, and it makes a forthright case for the claim that, in the absence of a divine law conception of ethics, any specifically moral concept of obligation must be redundant, and that the best that can be hoped for in a secular age is some sort of neo-Aristotelianism. Anscombe is right about this, we think. And, among those who disagree, one of the very few to have taken her on at all explicitly is Christine Korsgaard, whose Kantianism of course commits her to the view that the concept of moral obligation is central, with or without God. Here, we try to show that Korsgaard loses the argument.

PDF
ConceptofMoralObligation.pdf - Accepted Manuscript
Download (78kB)

More information

Published date: 28 November 2007

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 79738
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/79738
ISSN: 0031-8191
PURE UUID: 3699e10c-19c3-41fd-bc20-121773277541

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 18 Mar 2010
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 23:16

Export record

Altmetrics

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton: eprints@soton.ac.uk

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/cgi/oai2

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.

×