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Durham University

Durham Law School

Staff profile

Publication details for Professor Deryck Beyleveld

Beyleveld, Deryck (2017). Transcendental Arguments for a Categorical Imperative as Arguments from Agential Self-Understanding. In Transcendental Arguments in Moral Theory. Brune, Jens Peter Stern, Robert & Werner, Micha H Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter. 141-159.

Author(s) from Durham


This chapter construes Kant’s contention that a categorical imperative is a synthetic a priori principle as equivalent to Gewirth’s claim that such an imperative is a dialectically necessary principle (a strict requirement of agential self-understanding). It is not concerned to defend either Kant’s or Gewirth’s argument for a categorical imperative, but to elucidate the “dialectically necessary method” (which rests on the dialectical necessity of a principle making it categorically binding) and to defend this method against David Enoch’s critique of “constitutivism” (taken as trying to show that transcendental arguments for morality, construed as dialectically necessary ones, are futile, even if they can be successful, because normativity cannot be constituted in dialectical necessity). In the process, it relates the dialectically necessary method to internalism, naturalism, foundationalism, coherentism, and realism.