published on September 3, 2016
A Fact, As It Were
Obligation, Indifference, and the Question of Ethics
According to Immanuel Kant, the objective validity of obligation is given as a fact of reason, which forces itself upon us and which requires no deduction of the kind that he had provided for the categories in the Critique of Pure Reason. This fact grounds a moral philosophy that treats obligation as a good that trumps all others and that presents the moral subject as radically responsible, singled out by an imperatival address. Based on conceptions of indifference and facticity that Charles Scott has articulated in his recent work, I argue that these broadly Kantian commitments are mistaken. More specifically, I argue that the fact of obligation is given along with a dimension of indifference that disrupts the hierarchical relation between moral and non-moral goods and that renders questionable the unconditional character of responsibility.