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Mutual recognition and ethics: a Hegelian reformulation of the Kantian argument for the rationality of morality.

The object of this paper is to present a revised and improved version of Kant's argument that in order to be autonomous, an agent must also be moral. The essence of this revision is presented by Hegel in his discussion of mutual recognition and independent "I"-hood, in chapter 4 of the Phenomenology of Spirit, though commentators have not explained how Hegel's discussion constitutes such a revision.(1) My primary purpose in presenting the argument, however, is not to contribute to the understanding of Hegel's work, but to explore an important option, for ethical theory, whose existence is generally unrecognized. An improved version of Kant's argument would be a good thing to have, because Kant's own versions of it are unsuccessful and because no other revised version of it that I am aware of appears to have better prospects than the original version - and because in general the "scandalous" truth (as Kant said in connection with refutations of skepticism about the external world) is that no attempt to show that rational agents must be moral has found wide acceptance, even as a promising research program.

I. The Kantian Argument,

and a Problem With It

I will begin by sketching the Kantian argument. In Kant's view, a person (call her "Sally") who aims to be self-governed will fail if she is governed by the desires that she happens to have, for these desires - as they initially present themselves - are not herself; they are given to her by her biological inheritance or her environment; and she is the one who has to decide, in each case, whether this desire is a desire that she has reason to act on, or not. (This is the idea underlying the Categorical Imperative: an imperative that is "categorical" is one whose relevance does not depend upon the person in question having any particular desire.) But if a person is not to be governed, ultimately, by her desires, and if her actions are not to be purely arbitrary (because "self-government" can hardly be government by nothing at all), there must be something else that governs her. And the only candidate for filling this role that Kant could think of was the moral law.

But Kant seems to have overlooked another possible way of being governed by something other than one's desires. Sally could be governed not by the moral law but by prudence, by considerations of what is best for herself, as long as those considerations do not reduce to the satisfaction of her desires. If there are some things that are objectively good for people, good for them regardless of what they happen (subjectively) to want, and if Sally is governed by considerations having to do with getting those things, then she will have just as much claim to be "self-governed," it seems, as someone who is governed by the moral law.(2) And a person who is governed only by objective prudence could, presumably, be entirely immoral: could pay no heed to what is good for other people, what is fair, and so forth.

Probably the reason why Kant did not think of this other possible way of being self-governed is that, like many modern philosophers, he tended to think of what is good for people as their subjective happiness, which presumably mostly reflects the extent to which their desires are satisfied. It did not occur to him that what is good for a person might be, at least in part, just as objective, just as nonreducible to the satisfaction of their desires, as he thought morality was.(3)

To see why one might think that what is good for a person does not always depend on what the person wants, imagine Sally as a person who never thinks for herself, who has no interests and forms no plans of her own, but always takes her cue from other people, and other people's interests and plans. The latter way of living seems to make her, as it were, less of a person. Many people would probably agree that if Sally has the capacity really to be a person, then not being one, or being less of one, makes her worse off, regardless of what she wants or desires. Many of us do think of certain kinds of functioning as essential parts of any really good life for a human being.

Would accepting this idea - that a significant part of what is good for an individual is objectively determined, not dependent on her subjective desires - require us to abandon Kant's project of deriving the obligatoriness of morality from our autonomy? I mentioned the objectivity of the good as a problem for Kant's project, because it suggests that being guided by morality is not the only way to be self-governing (not governed merely by one's desires). But Hegel gives us a version of Kant's argument for which the possibility of objective prudence (the possibility of being- governed by what is objectively good for one) creates no problem. I will outline that version now.

II. Why Is Autonomy Important?

Hegel's starting point, like Kant's, is, of course, the idea of autonomy (which Hegel calls "freedom").(4) Rather than going into Hegel's complex treatment of this theme in the Phenomenology of Spirit and the Philosophy of light, I will offer a sketch of the intuition that I think both he and Kant draw upon. If we ask ourselves why people might find the notion of autonomy as self-government attractive, the answer has to do with unity, meaningfulness, and "point." If we were governed merely by our desires, we could wind up riding off in all directions at once, as it were. For desires, as such, are discrete and multiple, not integrated into a meaningful whole. About any single desire or group of desires, we can always ask, what is the point of following it or them, in particular, in a given situation? How do they fit into the bigger picture of a life that makes sense as a whole? By contrast to a life that is guided only by desires, Kant's notion of a self that governs itself by reference to "universal" standards such as the Categorical Imperative, promises to give us access to a conception of what is essential to selfhood as such, and thus essential to any life that is meaningful, that has a point, for a person or a self In that way, it promises a life that is a unified, meaningful whole, as opposed to one that amounts, in effect, to a heap of mutually unrelated projects.(5)

III. But Autonomy

Creates Problems

But if we take this "unification" project seriously, two significant problems arise:(6) (1) What unity will there be between the activity of seeking unity, of questioning one's desires, on the one hand, and the equally normal activity of seeking to satisfy desires, on the other? If Sally seeks unity, this question about her own "second-order" unity - about the unity (if any) of the two kinds of activity that she engages in - will presumably be just as important as the unity that she seeks, on the first level, among her practical goals. This question of her "second-order" unity could also be called the question of her "vertical integration." (2) What desires constitute the domain that needs to be unified by the "first-order" search for unity? For presumably someone who questions the authority of her individual desires will also question the authority of the bundle of desires that happen to be associated with her particular organism, or of which she happens to be conscious. Why should the area of her responsibility not be wider (encompassing, perhaps, more than one organism), or narrower (extending to only one aspect or one phase of what we would ordinarily regard as her identity)? What is she in charge of; where does she end, and the next autonomous agent begin? This is the question of ("horizontal") individuation.

Now the interesting thing about these two problems is that it is hard to imagine how solutions to them can be found from within the point of view of the activity of questioning one's desires and seeking unity among one's practical goals. For the essential nature of this activity is to question desires, and thus to disconnect itself (at least temporarily) from the activity of seeking to satisfy them. From within the point of view of the activity of questioning desires, unity with the activity of seeking to satisfy them is hardly available. Nor, as I was just pointing out, does this activity, which questions what is given to the agent, seem likely to give her access to a solution to the "horizontal" problem, the problem of individuation, either, because it will question the relevance of the individuation that is provided by the bundle of desires that happens to be given in one consciousness.

As for the other point of view that I have mentioned - the point of view of seeking to satisfy desires - it will not yield unity with the activity of questioning desires, since in seeking to satisfy desires one takes their status as goals for granted. Nor will it serve to individuate the ("horizontal") domain of the agent's responsibility, since it has no concept of anything like identity or responsibility. It simply pursues the satisfaction of desires one by one (or in order of strength, or what ever it may be).

IV. The Hegelian Solution

To These Problems:

Mutual Recognition

Accordingly, a third point of view will be needed, both for the agent's vertical integration and for her horizontal individuation. As a source of this point of view, Hegel proposes what he calls "mutual recognition." Its first feature - "recognition" - is that Sally sees herself or imagines another person (Joe) seeing her "from outside" - from a point of view that is not her own. (These two cases - self-observation and observation by another - are similar, to the extent that Sally can visually observe the outer surface of her own body, and thus her actions, in the same way that Joe can observe them. Though obviously limited in certain ways, the possibility of such self-observation makes Sally, in one way, an "other" to herself.) Now, observing Sally from outside makes it natural to understand her (as we understand animals in general) as seeking to satisfy desires. If the observer of Sally (whether this is Joe, or Sally herself) is, in addition, itself a unity-seeking animal, and if this observer takes Sally to be the same kind of thing as itself, then it will be natural for the observer to see Sally as seeking unity, as well as seeking to satisfy desires. And since - this is the key point - the observer, as such, is not involved, directly, in either of these activities as they are carried on by Sally, the observer does not encounter the problem of their mutual exclusiveness, in the way that Sally does in her first-person role, from "inside" them. Thus access to the point of view of another gives Sally an indirect access to the larger unity of her two activities.

For simplicity, in the next couple of paragraphs, I will speak of the person who occupies the point of view of the other as a distinct person (such as "Joe"), rather than as Sally in the role of observer of herself I will then return to the latter case, and show how the same consequences follow from it as follow from the case in which the observer is a second, numerically distinct person.

To continue, then; this new point of view also solves Sally's problem of individuation - her problem of delimiting the part of the world for which she, as an individual, is directly responsible (that is, her problem of defining her boundaries, vis-a-vis other responsible individuals). As, in the first case, Joe started with Sally's animal nature as a seeker of desire-satisfaction, here again he will presumably start with the human organism presently called "Sally;" though in drawing up the limits to Sally's personhood he may perhaps depart from the temporal and functional boundaries of that organism's life in case the sorts of anomalies that personal identity theorists worry about (splits in consciousness, memory, or functioning; "continuers" in other bodies; and so forth) should present themselves. To Sally, in pursuing he goal of autonomy, the most important consideration is to avoid ignoring or ducking any question about the relevance of anything (desires, particular organism, etc.) that enters into her decision-making process. Within her activity of pursuing autonomy, there is no need for Sally to deal with the issue of her own existence as an object in the world. For Joe, on the other hand, as a third-person observer of Sally (as one who views her, in other words, as an object), to be able to interpret her as an object in the world is the most important consideration. If he can't place her in the world, she may not qualify as a real object at all. And for the purpose of interpreting Sally as an object in the world, the (as it were) "brute" integrity achieved by the organism presently called "Sally" far surpasses possible collections of organisms, or phases in the life of one organism, as a candidate for the role of initial, basic entity. Thus, Joe has a legitimate reason for using the human organism as his point of departure in individuating Sally. Sally, however (in her first-person point of view on herself) does not have this reason, because her aim (there) is simply to do the best possible job of being a person, by being autonomous, an activity that precisely disconnects her from her identity as an organism. That is why she needs to have recourse to Joe's point of view - to the point of view of another - in order to delimit the part of the world for which she is directly responsible.

We come, now, to the second feature of "mutual recognition": its mutuality. The result of Sally's depending, in the way I have described, on the point of view of another person for her unity and her individuation is (as Hegel points out) that she is less "self-contained" than we often suppose we are.(7) This is not to say that she is less autonomous. For what led us to this solution in the first place was the two problems of how to unite autonomy and the search for desire satisfaction, and of how to individuate the autonomous agent; and part of the point of the solution is that it leaves the autonomy in place, as an aspect of the new unity and the newly demarcated individual. The point, rather, is that this individual, Sally, cannot see her autonomy as hers alone: she must see it as depending (that is, she must see its unity with her desire-satisfying behavior as depending, and see her individuation as depending) on her recognizing the autonomy of others Unless they are autonomous, they will be unable to appreciate her autonomy and thus unable to see her as uniting autonomy with desire-satisfying behavior, or to see her as an autonomous individual. This is why the "recognition" relationship must be a mutual one, why Sally must recognize Joe, as well as being recognized by him.(8)

The reader will be wondering, though, what if the "other person" on whom Sally depends for her vertical unity and horizontal individuation is not literally a distinct person, such as Joe, but is herself, Sally, in the role of "external" observer of herself? In that case, couldn't she achieve her goals (of unifying and individuating herself) without recognizing the autonomy of anyone else? Couldn't she be "self-contained" after all?

The important thing to see, in connection with this question, is that to the extent that she enters into this role of external observer of herself, Sally has to take seriously the question of what justifies her in describing herself (that is, in describing the self that she is observing) as autonomous. She cannot simply say, "That's me, and I know - from my internal experience of being me - that I am autonomous." In order to be justified in saying that, she would have to be justified in believing that what she is observing is the same kind of thing that she has the internal experience of being. But we know all too well, from the history of philosophy, that this is a point at which skepticism readily, and apparently reasonably, enters in. The skeptic who grants that Sally internally experiences something that she could reasonably call "autonomy," need not grant that an observer has equally good grounds for ascribing autonomy to Sally as a physically extended object in the world. To grant the first is only to grant that Sally has a certain internal experience; to grant the second would be to grant that autonomy is a feature of certain objects in the world. As an observer of herself, from an "external" point of view, this is an issue that Sally, just like any other external observer, must confront. The result of her confronting it, I suggest, is that in describing herself as autonomous, Sally (as "observer") will have to point to evidence that is accessible to an observer, as such - that is, to another person.

But if, in describing herself as autonomous (as part of her project of achieving her own vertical integration and horizontal individuation), Sally has to be able to point to evidence that is accessible to others, then Sally already - merely in seeking understanding of herself - is necessarily embroiled with others. For in using publically (externally available evidence as an adequate basis for ascribing autonomy to herself, she is committed to accepting similar evidence as an adequate basis for ascribing autonomy to others. If she were to refuse to do so, she would deprive her ascription of autonomy to herself of its meaning and thus of its usefulness in her own project. Thus, her own unity and individuation depend (as I concluded in the paragraph before last) on her recognizing the autonomy of others. By adopting the point of view of an other, Sally has ceased to be "self-contained" in a way that would have allowed her to pursue her own autonomy while ignoring that of others.

VI. This Recognition Must Be

Practical, Not Just Theoretical

A natural question to ask at this point would be: Granting that Sally may need to be embroiled with others in the way that I have described, why should this have any practical consequences for her actions? Couldn't she simply grant, as a ("theoretical") fact, that others have autonomy, without allowing that fact to have any practical consequences for her behavior toward them?

The reason this conclusion cannot be drawn is that the issue of individuation - one of the basic issues that this "mutual recognition" embroilment is supposed to address - is not just a "theoretical" issue, but also - inherently - an issue of value. For the question of what we should take to be a person, what are the appropriate boundaries of an autonomous agent, is the question of what kind of entity ought to seek autonomy. If it is (primarily) nation-states that should seek autonomy, or if it is (primarily) my 1995 self and my 1996 self, or my paterfamilias self and my professional self, individually, that should seek autonomy, that is a fact not only about what kind of agency is possible, but also about what kind of agency is valuable. So, to delineate the entity that one is prepared to call a person or an autonomous agent is to delineate what one regards as the (most) valuable form of autonomy, the most genuine incarnation of the value of autonomy.(9) Thus, Sally's being recognized as an autonomous individual by another is her being recognized as embodying that value. Since this recognition must be mutual if it is to be a reliable basis for Sally's own unity and identity (because of the embroilment with others that I have just been analyzing), she must recognize others as embodying the same value. But in order to count as recognition of value, rather than just lip service to it, this view must lead to actions that take account of that value, in others as well as in herself. That is why it cannot be a merely theoretical acknowledgment, but must be practical as well.

Nor can Sally choose to recognize this value, practically, in agents whom it is convenient for her to recognize, and ignore it in others, whom it would be inconvenient for her to recognize. For this sort of discrimination would show, once again, that her criteria for what she will recognize as autonomous are not the objective, descriptive ones that she needs the other (or herself, as the other) to apply in recognizing her. Thus the systematic pursuit of autonomy on the part of an individual must lead her to a practical recognition of all autonomous agents as loci of value.

This, however, is the essence of morality, as Kant (at least) conceived of it: that we take the autonomy of others - their value as autonomous agents - just as seriously as we take our own, with the result that we try to behave toward ourselves and others in ways that all of us could rationally accept, rather than in ways that benefit some of us and that treat others merely as means to that benefit. So Hegel has shown how an agent who values her own autonomy - and values it because she values rational unity - must act morally; he has found the relationship between autonomy and morality for which Kant was searching. What had to be added to Kant's picture in order to make his argument work is explicit recognition (a) of the multiplicity of agents, and (b) of the problems for those agents (problems in their unification and in their individuation as loci of value) that are created by the interest in unity, meaningfulness, and (therefore) autonomy that Kant correctly imputed to them. These problems necessitate the kind of relations between the multiple agents - relations of mutual recognition - that require them to treat one another in the way that Kant described as moral. Thus, by emphasizing problems with Kantian autonomy that Kant did not address, Hegel seems to have solved a central problem that Kant did (famously and unsuccessfully) address.

To return, finally, to the issue I began with. For Hegel's version of Kant's argument, the objectivity of the good, and thus the possibility that autonomy functions in the area of objective prudence as well as in the area of morality, as such, creates no problem. Indeed. if it is good for a unity-seeking creature like ourselves - a creature that needs to find unity, meaningfulness, point in its life - to find those things, then Hegel has shown how morality is a necessary part of what is good for us.(10)


(1.) In this paper I will not examine Hegel's text, but I will simply lay out the argument as I understand it, in ordinary language. I have analyzed Hegel's presentation of it in Chapter 2 of my dissertation (Cornell, 1994). Kant's original argument is presented in Chapter 3 of Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, and important aspects of it are reworked in various ways in the Critique of Practical Reason and Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone. Though they enable the argument to escape other objections to which the original version is vulnerable, these revisions seem to leave it vulnerable to criticisms paralleling the one that I outline in the next couple of pages. As for my claims to originality, here, I should explain that various commentators have noted the existence of a relationship of some kind between Kant's ethics and Hegel's recognition argument, but no one (as far as I know) has spelled the relationship out in any detail. Nor has anyone explained, to my satisfaction at least, how Hegel's "mutual recognition" argument is supposed to work, as an argument. (See note 6, below, for a couple of examples.) (2.) A similar point against Kant's argument is made by Bernard Williams when he states that standing back in reflection" (as required by Kantian autonomy) does not of itself "convert [us] into being[s] whose fundamental interest lies in the harmony of all interests," nor does it give us "the motivations of justice." (Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1985), p. 69.) Again. Allen Wood points out that Kant seems not to distinguish between rules that are universal" in the sense that they apply to all agents (as would be the case, say, with considerations of what is objectively good for every agent), and rules that are "universal" in the sense that one could rationally will that all agents obey them (as in the first formula of the Categorical Imperative). (Hegel 's Ethical Thought (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1990), p. 164.) It seems that Kant has not fully come to grips with the issue of the multiplicity of agents, which creates the distinctions that Williams and Wood are pointing to. (3.) In defending Kant's argument against Wood's objection (which I cited in the previous note), Henry Allison says that "to adopt a maxim such as false promising in virtue of its assumed universality of applicability is not to adopt it because of its conformity unconditional practical law. On the contrary, such a policy is deemed reasonable in the first place only because of certain presupposed ends. which derive whatever justification they might possess from the agent's desires" ("On a Presumed Gap in the Derivation of the Categorical Imperative," Philosophical Topics, vol. 19 (1991), p. 12). The latter statement presupposes, and Allison does not further justify, the premise to which I am objecting, here: that the relevance of ends having to do with what is good for an agent can be due only to the agent's desires. It is difficult to see how Kantians, who insist on the possible relevance of non-desire-based reasons in the case of morality, can reasonably exclude them in the case of rational prudence. (4.) Hegel himself does not underline the affinity between his starting point and Kant's; and Hegel's analysis of "freedom" in the Introduction to the Philosophy of Right has a complexity that is intended to enable it to avoid the antagonistic dualism of duty vs, inclination that is characteristic of Kant's ethics. But it is clear that the first "moment" of "freedom," in Hegel's analysis, involves (what we might call) "stepping back" from drives, desires, and the like, in just the same way that Kant expects an autonomous agent to step back from them; and the third moment, which ensures that the agent stays "with himself" in the particular projects required by the second moment, is intended precisely to ensure the continued relevance of the first moment. (5.) Note that a life that is unified in the sense that it is guided by the goal (for example) of maximizing the overall satisfaction of the individual's actual (or possible) desires, is still not integrated into a meaningful whole. Since we can still ask, about this group of desires, what is the point of following them, in particular, in the given situation - since, that is, they are not unified in the sense of having any shared point, as a group - the plan that aims at maximizing their satisfaction is still composed of what amounts to a heap of mutually unrelated projects. The kind of unity ("a life that makes sense as a whole") that we see in a life that is governed by "universal" standards like the Categorical Imperative, is not found in a mere aggregate. (Another philosophical doctrine that speaks to our interest in the stronger kind of unity that I am pointing to here is Aristotle's notion of the good as an objective "end for man." Whether that end is taken to be a single kind of good, such as "study," or an ordered collection of goods, it is, apparently, not just an aggregate (a heap). The metaphor of a "heap," in contrast to an ordered whole, originates in Aristotle; see, for example, Metaphysics 1041b11.) (6.) This pair of problems is my way of spelling out what lies behind the pivotal paragraph 177 of the Phenomenology of Spirit, in which Hegel says: "a self-consciousness exists for a self-consciousness. Only so does it in fact exist; for only in this way does the unity of itself in its other-being become explicit for it" (Phanomenologie des Ceistes, vol. 3 in G. W. F. Hegel, Theorie Werkausgabe, ed. E. Moldenhauer and K. M. Michel (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1970), pp. 144-45. The paragraph numbers are those of A. V. Miller's translation: G W. F. Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977]). The final clause - "for only in this way ..." - states the problem that the analysis of mutual recognition, in the following paragraphs (178-184), is meant to solve, for the unity-seeking agent. It is a neglect of this motivating problem (or "problems," in my version) that prevents the "mutual recognition" argument, in many published interpretations, from carrying conviction. In his Hegel's Ethical Thought (p. 85), Allen Wood suggests that "the only `other' that can form a conception of me as a free self is another free self"(p. 85); and that I need such a "confirming perspective on myself"(p. 85), from some source other than myself, because that would be the ultimate "overcoming of otherness" (such overcoming being the essential characteristic of "spirit") (p. 84). What this account lacks is a systematic explanation of why I should be interested in participating in "spirit" in this sense. Michael Inwood, in his article on "Recognition and Acknowledgement" in his A Hegel Dictionary (Oxford: Blackwell, 1992), suggests that in order to be self-conscious the other must think - must therefore speak a language - must therefore speak to others - and in order to speak to others must recognize them, so that if I need to see an other as an "I" in order to see myself as an "I" these connections would explain why I could not do this unless the other recognized me. What this does not explain is why I need to see an other as an "I" in order to see myself as an "I." Nor have I been able to find a convincingly integrated exposition of Hegel's argument in Ludwig Siep, Anerkennung als praktisches Prinzip: Untersuchungen zu Hegels Jenaer Philosophie des Geistes (Freiburg: Alber, 1979), Andreas Wildt, Autonomie und Anerkennung (Stuttgart: KlettCotta, 1982), or Robert R. Williams, Recognition. Fichte and Hegel on the Other (Albany: SUNY Press, 1992), helpful though they (and Wood and Inwood) all are in interpreting particular passages and connecting different Hegelian themes and texts. (7.) "It is aware that it at once is, and is not, another consciousness...." (Phanomenologie des Geistes, p. 147/par. 184.) It is an other in the sense that it finds its own unity only through the point of view, and the self-conscious "I"-hood, of the other; it is not the other in the sense that they are still numerically distinct, still "other" to each other. (This theory clearly needs to be compared to Aristotle's notion of the friend as "another self": Nicomachean Ethics 1166a31, 1170b7. The similarity between the two theories is that both of them picture the individual, or the individual's life, as in some sense incomplete without the right sort of relations to others. However, Aristotle seems to think that one's need for friends is fully satisfied by a combination of a small number of "complete" friends and a larger number of "civic friends" - fellow-citizens - with whom one shares rational discourse about the good and justice; whereas Hegel's argument seems to lead to more universalistic conclusion, as I will explain below. I plan to present a detailed comparison of Aristotle's and Hegel's arguments elsewhere.) Robert R. Williams provides a useful discussion of the seemingly paradoxical dependence on others for the possibility of independence, which Hegel's theory asserts, and of the unusual ontology - neither atomistic pluralist nor monist - that it implies. See his Recognition. Fichte and Hegel on the Other (Albany: SUNY Press, 1992), pp. 151-52 and 165-66 (notes 39-42). As Williams indicates, the most thorough-going account of how Hegel's ontology differs from a monism such as F. H. Bradley's doctrine of "internal relations" (which because of Bradley's interest in Hegel, has often been regarded a a "Hegelian" position), but also differs from atomistic individualisms, is given by Rolf-Peter Horstmann in his Ontologie un Relationen: Hegel, Bradley, Russell und die Kontroverse uber interne und externe Beziehungen (Konigstein/Taunus, 1984), esp. ch. 1. (8.) It should be clear that when "mutuality" is understood in the way that I have just been describing, the argument does not assert that Sally's unity and individuation depend upon her actually being recognized by an actual other. Hegel's argument does not deny unity and individuation to a solitary Sally, or to a Sally who happens to encounter only others who refuse to recognize her. It merely requires her to be prepared to recognize, as autonomous, every actual agent she encounters whose behavior provides the same basis for such recognition that her own behavior provides - so that her adoption of the point of view of an other, in order to grasp her own unity and individuation, will be real rather than feigned. Mutuality, here, is not (essentially) a feature of a transaction between actual individuals, so much as a feature of Sally's conception of her relationship to others - a conception that of course has consequences for the kinds of transactions with actual others that she will choose to engage in, in actual circumstances. (9.) It seems strange even to suggest that something other than an individual human organism could be the most appropriate bearer of (and thus the most genuine incarnation of the value of) autonomy. It probably seems equally strange to suggest, as I have been suggesting, that Sally should have any problem relating her activity of seeking unity to her activity of seeking desire-satisfaction. These things seem strange, I think, simply because we already take for granted, in a general way, the kind of solution (namely, some kind of access to the point of view of an other) that Hegel is outlining for these problems. The significance of Hegel's analysis is in drawing our attention to what we take for granted, and helping us to see its implications more clearly. (10.) Does this mean that Hegel's version of Kant s argument is "eudaemonistic" in a way that Kant could not accept? It does not, because the attitude that it requires of the agent is (as I have just been showing) precisely not an attitude of pursuing her own good regardless of the good of others, but an attitude that takes the autonomy, and thus the good, of all others just as seriously as it takes it own. In that sense, it is an attitude of interest in morality for its own sake, not as a means to something else. What Hegel's argument shows is that such an attitude is in fact in the best interest of the agent - even though the attitude is one that prevents that fact from being the agent's motive. When I write, in this paper, of the agent's "pursuit of her autonomy" (and of her unity in general), as though it were the conscious pursuit of her own good, regardless of that of others, this should be taken as a shorthand way of describing what is revealed by a detached study of the agent's good, and not as a description of the agent's motives. For comments on various versions of this paper, I would like to thank, especially, Tom Bennigson,Terry Irwin, Bruce Krajewski, David Lyons, Dick Miller, Paul Redding, Bill Schroeder, Chris Wagner, Ken Westphal, Allen Wood; my wife, Carol Roberts; an anonymous referee for American Philosophical Quarterly; and also my students over the last several years at Cornell and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
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Author:Wallace, Robert M.
Publication:American Philosophical Quarterly
Date:Jul 1, 1995
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