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Transcendental Arguments in Moral Theory

Ed. by Brune, Jens Peter / Stern, Robert / Werner, Micha H.

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March 2017
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On Pain of Self-Contradiction?

Reinmuth, Friedrich


Claims that agents must accept or reject certain propositions “on pain of self-contradiction” play a key role in Alan Gewirth’s dialectically necessary method. The aim of this paper is to investigate Gewirth’s method with respect to the relation between such claims, entailment and self-contradiction. I will identify certain bridge principles connecting obligatory acceptance, rejection and entailment that seem to be presupposed by Gewirth. Contrary to what seems to be Gewirth’s view, these principles, e. g., that one must accept simple and direct consequences of propositions that one must accept, do not follow from minimal rationality demands with respect to the avoidance of self-contradiction. Moreover, the bridge principles themselves appear to be rather problematic. Still, plausible dialogical versions of them can be developed. This dialogical treatment is not confined to the transfer of obligatory acceptance and rejection via entailment, but can be extended to primary acceptance with respect to the starting premises. It might seem questionable whether such a dialogical strategy is acceptable to a strict Gewirthian, since agents would have to accept certain propositions not “on pain of self-contradiction,” but on pain of violating dialogical principles which would have to be justified independently. However, even Gewirth’s demands with respect to the avoidance of self-contradiction go beyond what the rules of logic require. It seems that the dialectically necessary method cannot proceed without acknowledging a normative sphere of discursive practices.

Citation Information

Friedrich Reinmuth (2017). On Pain of Self-Contradiction?. In Jens Peter Brune, Robert Stern, Micha H. Werner (Eds.), Transcendental Arguments in Moral Theory (pp. 47–70). Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110470215-004

Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110470215

Online ISBN: 9783110470215

© 2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/BostonGet Permission

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