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Respect for persons and the moral force of socially constructed norms

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Issue numbern/a
Early online date12 Dec 2019
Accepted/In press12 Jul 2019
E-pub ahead of print12 Dec 2019

Bibliographical note

doi: 10.1111/nous.12319


King's Authors


Abstract When and why do socially constructed norms?including the laws of the land, norms of etiquette, and informal customs?generate moral obligations? I argue that the answer lies in the duty to respect others, specifically to give them what I call ?agency respect.? This is the kind of respect that people are owed in light of how they exercise their agency. My central thesis is this: To the extent that (i) existing norms are underpinned by people's commitments as agents and (ii) they do not conflict with morality, they place moral demands on us on agency-respect grounds. This view of the moral force of socially constructed norms, I suggest, is superior to views that deny the moral force of such norms, and it elegantly explains certain instances of wrongdoing that would otherwise remain unaccounted for.

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