chapter  2
1 Pages

What is the second-person standpoint?

There is considerable promise here. But we are some distance from being able to make good on it. The main obstacle is insufficient clarity about the concept of the second-person. While great effort has gone into spelling out what it explains, not enough has been done to describe the relevant form of thought or to account for its possibility. The conceptual instability comes out in a recent exchange between Stephen Darwall and Christine Korsgaard, each of whom speaks of our practical thought as second-personal. After taking some provisional steps to isolate this, I survey their exchange to raise some questions about what, if anything, recent insistence on the moral philosophical importance of the second-person could have to do with a distinct way of apprehending other wills. These doubts do not extinguish the promise of the second-person, neither do they indicate a way forward. In the last section, I sketch a handful of questions that help to specify what the second-person would have to be if it is to matter to ethics.