Patrick Kain

Department of Philosophy

Purdue University





This essay addresses the relationship between Kant's theory of moral motivation and theories of normativity.  Constructivist or "ideal agent" theories of normativity claim that what makes a principle normative is that rational agents endorse or possess a motive of a certain kind to comply with it, or that they endorse or possess such a motive to comply with it insofar as they are rational.  Korsgaard has argued that Kant's "motivational analysis" of the concept of obligation in Grundlegung I provides an argument for such a constructivist theory of normativity.  In this examination of Korsgaard's argument, I defend two important modifications of the concept of "intrinsic normativity" and suggests that once these modifications are made, the motivational analysis argument fails to establish the constructivist claim that the normative authority of the supreme principle of morality is constituted by or depends solely upon agents' motivational states.  While Kant's motivational analysis helps to reveal the nature of the alleged internal relation between the supreme principle of morality and the nature of the rational will, it does not demand the adoption of a constructivist theory of normativity.

"Constructivism, Intrinsic Normativity, and the Motivational Analysis Argument"

In Moralische Motivation. Kant und die Alternativen.  (Kant-Forschungen 16)

eds. Heiner Klemme, Manfred Kuehn, and Dieter Schönecker

Hamburg: Meiner Verlag, 2006.

pp. 59-78. (9,534 words)

ISBN-13: 9783787317929