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Chapter 2 - Why Be Moral? The Critique of Amoralism

from Part I - Self, Despair, and Wholeheartedness

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 January 2022

Roe Fremstedal
Affiliation:
Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim
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Summary

Chapter 2 deals with the critique of the aesthetical stage by focusing on Either/Or. It is shown that this critique offers an original answer to the “why be moral?” question relevant to contemporary debates on amoralism and practical moral skepticism. Specifically, Either/Or develops an original critique of amoralism that escapes a difficult dilemma associated with justifications of morality. According to this dilemma, any such justification must either offer moral or nonmoral (prudential) reasons for being moral. But the former seems circular and question begging, whereas the latter seems like the wrong kind of reasons, which could only support egoism and legality, not altruism and morality. However, Kierkegaard develops three different argumentative strategies that all escape this dilemma, providing strong motivation and reasons for assessing ourselves morally. He thus offers a powerful critique of amoralism that is relevant to contemporary concerns, while being rooted in historical discussions of Kantianism, German Romanticism, and idealism.

Type
Chapter
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Kierkegaard on Self, Ethics, and Religion
Purity or Despair
, pp. 34 - 53
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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