Creating a Shared Morality

The Feasibility of Ethical Constructivism


In Creating a Shared Morality, Heather Salazar develops a consistent and plausible account of ethical constructivism that rivals the traditional metaethical theories of realism and subjectivism (without lapsing into subjectivism as do previous constructivist attempts). Salazar’s Enlightenism argues that all people have moral obligations and that if they reflect well, they will naturally come to care about others as extensions of themselves. Enlightenism resolves difficulties within constructivism, builds bridges between the two traditional Western views of metaethics and employs concepts from Eastern (Buddhist) philosophy. It embraces universal morality while elevating the importance of autonomy, diversity and connectedness. Constructivist enlightenment entails understanding the interdependence of people on others such that we are all co-responsible for the world in which we live.

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Heather Salazar, Ph.D. University of California, Santa Barbara. Associate Professor of Philosophy, Western New England University. Publications: Philosophy of Spirituality (Brill 2018); Intro to Philosophy of Mind (Rebus 2019); “Descartes’ and Patanjali’s Conceptions of Self”, Journal of Indian Philosophy (2014).


part 1: Arguments for Ethical Constructivism

1 Ethical Constructivism and Its Origins
 1 Supernaturalist and Realist Externalism
 2 Subjectivist and Contractarian Internalism
 3 Kantian Transcendentalism and Procedural Morality
 4 Korsgaard’s Neo-Kantian Thoroughgoing Constructivism
 5 Saving Constructivism from Inadequacies: Enlightenism

2 Public Reasons as the Basis of Objective Morality
 1 Procedural Publicity
 2 Reasons as the Basis for Morality
 3 Korsgaard’s Argument for the Constructive Publicity of Reasons
 4 Two Strategies: Inductive and Deductive

3 Wittgenstein’s Private Language Argument: The Inductive Strategy
 1 The Shareablity of Meanings and Reasons
 2 Two Interpretations of Wittgenstein’s Private Language Argument
 3 Reasons to Reject the Inductive Strategy
 4 Important Differences between the Meanings and Reasons

4 Communicative Understanding: The Deductive Strategy
 1 The Argument that Language Forces People to Share Reasons
 2 The Publicity of Linguistic Consciousness
 3 Obligating People to Take on Others’ Communicated Reasons
 4 The Distinction between Felt Obligation and Actual Obligation
 5 The Significance of Understanding versus Endorsing Reasons

part 2: Enlightenism: A New Theory that Answers the Hard Questions

5 Three Theses: Constructivism, Publicity and Universality
 1 The Source and Nature of Reasons
 2 Theoretical Possibilities
 3 Public/Objective Reasons in Realism and UT
 4 Private/Subjective Reasons and UT
 5 Weak Realism and Mixed Theories
 6 Constructed Reasons and UT

6 The Universality of Reasons in Constructivism
 1 Simple Requests
 2 Theoretical Reasons for Universality
 3 Conflicting Reasons
 4 A New Theory That Answers the Hard Questions

7 Creating Legitimate Reasons and the Enlightenist Account
 1 Conferring Value in Constructivist Ethics
 2 Thoroughgoing Constructivism’s Lapse into Subjectivism
 3 Enlightenism: Ideal Reflection on Relevant Identities
 4 Ideal Reflection and the Moral Identity
 5 Counterfactual Reasons

8 Private Reasons and Reasons of Autonomy
 1 Reasons of Autonomy
 2 Korsgaard’s Theory and Its Incompatibility with Private Reasons
 3 Reasons of Autonomy: The Natural Reading
 4 Reasons of Autonomy as Public: Korsgaard’s Alternative
 5 Objections to Korsgaard’s Interpretation of Reasons of Autonomy
 6 Competitive Ambitions

part 3: Resolving Conflicts between Reasons

9 The Relative Strength of Reasons
 1 Intuitive Differences in the Depth of Reasons
 2 A Realist View
 3 Two Constructivist Views

10 Criterions for Distinguishing Deeper Reasons
 1 Defining Depth in Reasons
 2 The Group Size Account
 3 The Efficacy Account
 4 Centrality to Identity: The Entrenchment Account
 5 Centrality to Identity: The Concern Account
 6 The Practical Impact of Depth
 7 Unintuitive Consequences versus the Importance of Autonomy

11 Buddhism and Ethical Constructivism
 1 The Nature of Morality in Buddhism and Ethical Constructivism
 2 We All Have Reasons to be Moral and Enlightened
 3 Understanding That: Interbeing in Buddhism and Ethical Constructivism
 4 Two Truths in Buddhism and Ethical Constructivism

12 Interdependence and Self-Interest in Ethical Constructivism
 1 The Interdependency of Relative and Absolute Truths in Buddhism
 2 Compassionate Action and Co-responsibility in Buddhism
 3 Interdependence in Ethical Constructivism
 4 Selfishness and Altruism in Constructivism
 5 Animal Psychology, Peace, and Ethics

All interested in metaethics, neo-Kantian deontological ethics, constructivism, subjectivism, Eastern philosophy, comparative ethics, and Christine Korsgaard. Particularly suited for professional philosophers and graduate students.
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