Equal respect for rational agency

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Abstract

Individuals are owed equal respect. But on the basis of what property of individuals are they owed such respect? A popular Kantian answer —rational agency — appears less plausible in light of the growing psychological evidence that human choice is subject to a wide array of biases (framing, laziness, etc.); human beings are neither equal in rational agency nor especially robust rational agents. Defenders of this Kantian answer thus need a non-ideal theory of equal respect for rational agency, one that takes seriously our characteristic deficiencies of practical rationality without junking the notion that rational agency entitles us to equal respect. This article defends an understanding of respect for rational agency wherein the object of such respect is individuals’ aspiration to rationally govern their lives. This understanding of respect for rational agency retains the core notion of respect as a kind of deference, directs respect at persons, has suitably egalitarian implications, and does not require us to deny the aforementioned psychological evidence regarding the infirmities of human rationality.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOxford Studies in Normative Ethics
EditorsMark Timmons
PublisherOxford University Press
Chapter8
Pages182-203
Number of pages22
Volume10
ISBN (Print)9780198867944, 9780198867951
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2020

Publication series

NameOxford Studies in Normative Ethics
PublisherOxford University Press
Volume10

Keywords

  • respect
  • equality
  • rational agency
  • rationality
  • choice biases
  • non-ideal theory
  • Kantian ethics

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