Discussion Question Response
I believe that Natural Law is exaggerated. There is not a thing humans can follow to determine the right thing to do in most cases that is there naturally. This is developed through the culture and influence from those around a person that they are exposed to. Through these interactions and what they see a human develops what is right and wrong to them. Most of the concepts of being a decent human wasn’t widespread throughout history. Through the interactions of the societies the influence of one spread to the others changing what they thought was right and wrong. A way that led to these changes happening was through religion. With the spread of Christianity in Western Europe and Islam spreading throughout the Middle East, North Africa, and Spain, groups in those areas started aligning themselves more with each other. With this in mind it would support the Natural Law theory under Aquinas’ view. Through reasoning and supplementation of holy scriptures these areas were able to discover the tenets of the Natural Law. Throughout this time though religions have differed on what constitutes right and wrong changing what each culture and religion sees in the tenets of a good life. This leads to the differences in beliefs in morality as it all comes down to what that culture has been exposed to and how and what religion has affected it. An example of this would be from the same culture but having different religions. Those two people will see parts of morality differently based on the influence that their religions have had on them.
Stephen Darwall develops a novel argument against consequentialism in The Second-Person Standpoint. He appeals to (a) the conceptual connection between obligation and accountability and (b) the ‘proper kinds of grounds’ for holding people accountable for their actions. Darwall’s argument, as it currently stands, fails to defeat indirect consequentialism, I contend because it is predicated on a conflation between our having the right to develop practices and our having the right to do so in the first place. In addition, I consider two possible methods to strengthen Darwall’s case. However, while the second of these approaches appear to be more promising than the first, neither presents a strong case against indirect consequentialism in the traditional sense.
As explained in The Second-Personal Position, Darwall tries to explain how certain parts of morality are rooted invalid relationships from the second-personal standpoint. He asserts that by adopting a second-person point of view, we can hold one another and ourselves ethically accountable and morally obligated to one another. As a starting point, he outlines some of the principles and fundamental ideas that underpin his theory of the second-person viewpoint. He describes the second-personal position as the point of view that you and I adopt when we assert and acknowledge assertions about one another’s action and intent. In discourse, this can be done overtly by demanding, reprimanding, apologizing, and so on, or implicitly by reacting feelings such as resentment and guilt. A command is a type of second-person communication intended to provide a distinct normative justification for acting. Darwall refers to these types of motivations as second-personal motivations. Second-personal explanations are based on the de jure authority relationships that an addresser assumes to exist between her and her addressee to justify her actions. Second-personal reasons differ from other practical reasons in that they can only be addressed within authority relationships and make a different claim on the will.
Darwall explains that all his second-person conceptions are interconnected and form an interdefinability circle in which each implies the others. Third-person reasons, he argues, are linked to second-person practical authority, which is the ability to assert or demand something from another person. Making a claim or demand implies that the person making a claim or demand has the power to do so, and making an authoritative claim or demand provides a cause for the addressee to comply with the claim or demand. These principles are intertwined with the concept of accountability. Having the authority to demand not only indicates that the addressee has a motive to comply with one’s demand, but it also implies that the addressee is responsible for complying with one’s demand. To be valid, the requestor claim must be presupposed to be made by someone who has the right to do so, and the approved claim must establish a second personal cause for compliance. It is possible to be held accountable without having the authority to claim or demand something, which is the case if you have the standing to address second-personal reasons. The concepts of second-personal authority, a valid claim or demand, second-personal defense, and responsibility combine to form an interdefinability circle in which one concept implies the others. There is no means to enter the process from the outside. A proposition that does not include any second-person ideas cannot be implied by any other submission that does.
Having formed an indefinable circle, Darwall builds on power relationships by creating the dignity of individuals. We have the right to demand respect for our dignity as individuals, which includes the second-personal authority to demand respect for this authority and for the requirements with which we have the standing to demand compliance. Persons’ dignity implies holding someone morally accountable for their actions. In addition, it has a fundamental second-personal aspect that includes the authority to require specific treatment from one another, such as not stepping on one other’s toes and demanding specific treatment from others. Darwall alludes to Strawson’s theory of reactive attitudes and discusses how such attitudes are involved in holding someone morally responsible for their actions. Darwall establishes what he refers to as Strawson’s Point, which stresses the distinction between the proper reasons and the wrong reasons for doing something. Responsibility as accountability or obligation as attributability are two different types of moral responsibility.
Discussion Question Response