The Limits of Holistic Justification: The Authenticity of Moral Agency

By Chin-Tai Kim.

Published by The International Journal of Critical Cultural Studies

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Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: May 7, 2014 $US5.00

An ethical theory that affirms a norm in the form of a highest good or a moral law intends it to be universally valid for all humans. Such a theory is normally supported by metaphysical, empirical theoretical, phenomenological or historical considerations. But the considerations adduced in support of the normative claims must in turn receive support from morally relevant facts including approvals of the moral norms, so that the normative claims and their adduced grounds form a mutually dependent whole. The views concerning the status of the whole system include: a dogmatic view that an absolutely evident ground for the normative claims exists; a despairing denial of its possible theoretical justification; an existentialist view that a moral system is to be chosen, more or less arbitrarily, and lived authentically; and a variation according to which a moral system is to be authentically lived upon a choice made to fit one’s most valued identity--personal or cultural. This paper argues that ideal moral agency consists in committed participation in an open discourse in the space among moral systems, with awareness of human finitude and creativity, while retaining one’s cultural domicile.

Keywords: Justification of Moral Norms, Theory, Choice and Practice, Knowledge and Authenticity, Foundationalist Model for Normative Ethical Theory

The International Journal of Critical Cultural Studies, Volume 11, Issue 3, May 2014, pp.39-48. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: May 7, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 377.848KB)).

Prof. Chin-Tai Kim

Professor of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy, College of Arts and Sciences, Case Western Reserve University, Shaker Heights, Ohio, USA

B.A., Brown University; Ph.D., Harvard University. Professor of Philosophy, Case Western Reserve University. Has taught Greek philosophy, 17th and 18th century philosophy, Kant, 19th century philosophy. phenomenology, hermeneutics, comparative philosophy, and philosophy of religion. Research interests include epistemology, metaphysics, philosophical anthropology, cross-cultural comparative philosophy, ethics and foundations of ethics. Has published on Descartes, Kant, Hegel, Brentano, Husserl, meta-philosophical topics, and topics in the foundations of ethics, normative ethics, comparative philosophy, and philosophy of religion. Has continuing interest in the relationship between subjectivity and the objective, between facts and norms, and between theory and practice.