Agent-Centered Morality: An Aristotelian Alternative to Kantian Internalism

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University of California Press, Aug 12, 1999 - Philosophy - 445 pages
What kinds of persons do we aspire to be, and how do our aspirations fit with our ideas of rationality? In Agent-Centered Morality, George Harris argues that most of us aspire to a certain sort of integrity: We wish to be respectful of and sympathetic to others, and to be loving parents, friends, and members of our communities. Against a prevailing Kantian consensus, Harris offers an Aristotelian view of the problems presented by practical reason, problems of integrating all our concerns into a coherent, meaningful life in a way that preserves our integrity. The task of solving these problems is "the integration test."

Systematically addressing the work of major Kantian thinkers, Harris shows that even the most advanced contemporary versions of the Kantian view fail to integrate all of the values that correspond to what we call a moral life. By demonstrating how the meaning of life and practical reason are internally related, he constructs from Aristotle's thought a conceptual scheme that successfully integrates all the characteristics that make a life meaningful, without jeopardizing the place of any. Harris's elucidation of this approach is a major contribution to debates on human agency, practical reason, and morality.
 

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Contents

BEGINNINGS
1
1 The Internalism Requirement and the Integration Test
27
Impartiality Regulative Norms and Practical Reason
52
The Thin Conception of Integrity and the Integration Test
88
An IntegritySensitive Conception of Human Agency Practical Reason and Morality
108
THE GOODS OF RESPECT
129
General Features and Varieties of Respect
135
Respect Egoism and SelfAssessment
149
Peer Love
245
The Normative Thoughts of Friendship
259
The Normative Thoughts of Neighborly Love Part I Autonomy and Subservience
286
The Normative Thoughts of Neighborly Love Part II Autonomy of Conscience and the Unjust Community
304
Loneliness Intimacy and the Integration Test
327
THE GOODS OF ACTIVITY THE PLACE OF HE AESTHETIC IN PRACTICAL REASON
337
Solitary Activities
345
Shared Activities
373

The Categorical Value of the Goods of Respect
158
THE GOODS OF LOVE
175
General Features of Love
179
The Normative Thoughts of Parental Love Part I SelfRestricting Normative Beliefs
192
The Normative Thoughts of Parental Love Part II Otherrestricting Normative Beliefs
213
Normative Thoughts and the Goods of Activity
392
Bibliography
419
Index
427
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About the author (1999)

George W. Harris, Professor and Chair of the Department of Philosophy at the College of William and Mary, is the author of Dignity and Vulnerability: Strength and Quality of Character (California, 1997).

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