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date: 26 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article considers the relationship between Levinas’s ethics and the “second-personal” approach adopted by Stephen Darwall and K. E. Løgstrup. Darwall’s ethics treats the second-personal relation as one of command as an exercise of authority, while K. E. Løgstrup treats the second-personal relation as one of responsibility rather than command. It is argued that Løgstrup raises a fundamental difficulty for any command view, namely that the reason to act on a command is because one has been commanded to do so, where this cannot provide the right reason for a moral action. This article considers where Levinas should be located in this debate between the two models of second-personal ethics represented by Darwall and Løgstrup. It is suggested that while Levinas’s position reflects elements of both accounts, he is perhaps closer to the command approach, in a way that then makes him vulnerable to Løgstrup’s objections.

Keywords: Emmanuel Levinas, Stephen Darwall, K. E. Løgstrup, second-personal ethics, ethical responsibility, command accounts of obligation

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