Social Constitutivism and the Role of Retorsive Arguments

Abstract

This paper argues that certain transcendental arguments can play a valuable role in moral reasoning: They can make explicit constitutive elements of our common practice of justifying our actions to one another, of addressing practical criticism, of deliberating together, or of constructing a sharable standpoint of practical judgment. Thereby, they can serve to reaffirm basic normative commitments that no one who makes practical claims or who complains against another person’s conduct can avoid making. This amounts to a more modest interpretation of the potential of transcendental arguments than can be usually found in more traditional (“first personal”) versions of Kantian constitutivism. However, the modest use of transcendental reasoning may suffice for all practical purposes, even though it is not designed to force a moral sceptic into endorsing moral principles.

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