Constitutivism as a Method of Justification: A Gewirthian Approach
MetadataShow full item record
In this thesis, I argue that Gewirth’s constitutivist approach offers a fruitful alternative to the dominant understanding of constitutivism in the current (meta-)ethical discussion about constitutivism as a method of justification. Gewirth’s conception of the relation between the inescapability of agency and the normative authority of its constitutive features has the ability to overcome several fundamental objections to constitutivism. The central features of Gewirthian constitutivism that allow it to overcome these objections are 1) that it need not impose an (escapable) constitutive aim on agency, and 2) that this approach makes a distinction between the constitutive features of action and the evaluative criterion for particular actions. I will argue that this provides the ground for a convincing reply to so-called ‘shmgency-objections’ to constitutivism, as well as to several seemingly paradoxical implications of constitutivism. Furthermore, Gewirth’s approach, if coupled with certain anthropological premises, has the ability to justify a wide range of moral content, making it a viable ground for the justification of substantive moral conclusions. Taken together, these considerations imply that Gewirthian constitutivism deserves more consideration in the current debate, as a fruitful and convincing method of justification for normative- and applied-ethical discourse.