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Category: Sophie-Grace Chappell

Come promise with me

“The idea that the individual’s autonomy and authenticity can decisively and irrefragably be secured simply by insisting on the point that her motivations really are her own motivations is what Soviet theorists used to called naïve or even bourgeois individualism; it is the one-person-case analogue of the idea, in political theory, that the party that gains a majority in a fairly-conducted election is necessarily in possession of an unchallengeable mandate to govern. But the Sioux Nation do not lose their ancestral rights in Minnesota the moment they are outnumbered by white settlers there; and just because reasons are internal for me, it does not immediately follow that they are authentically mine.” – Sophie-Grace Chappell, “Rôles and Reasons” (emphasis in original)

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Free to be unfree

“My being non-alienated cannot be the same thing as what I would naturally do, not at least if what I would naturally do is supposed to mean what I would do anyway. ‘What I would do anyway’ is an incomplete phrase, and therefore, one without determinate sense. ‘Anyway’ means ‘in the absence of preventing factors or influences’, so the sense of ‘what I would do anyway’ depends on which factors or influences we are supposing to be absent. But it is just incoherent to suppose that all factors and influences could be absent; since something like this supposition is nonetheless resiliently an ingredient, albeit often a covert ingredient, of all sorts of thinking about autonomy, freedom, and the voluntary, we might call that supposition ‘the fantasy of freedom an sich’. For the supposition is indeed a fantasy: necessarily and universally, human action always pushes against some resistance. Moreover, it always pushes against some particular resistance: there is no more resistance an sich than there is freedom an sich. In the absence of either, then, there is no such thing as the pure and ahistorical state of unalienated nature, either.” – Sophie-Grace Chappell, “Rôles and Reasons” (footnote omitted; emphases in original)

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And that’s the reason

“To understand a practice is to come to grasp the reasons that that practice gives you—reasons that are not intelligible from outside the practice. Induction into the rôle of participant in the practice entails induction into the reasons characteristic and definitive of the practice. So by adopting the rôle I learn—and before that, commit myself to learn—to have the reasons. Not necessarily quickly or easily, either; induction into a practice can be, indeed usually is, hard work. By such induction I ‘systematically extend’ my own capacities to achieve the various kinds of excellence; and that means, too, that I systematically extend my own repertoire of reasons.” – Sophie-Grace Chappell, “Rôles and Reasons” (emphasis in original)

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Seeing to it

“The flourishing of the virtues requires and in turn sustains a certain kind of community, necessarily a small-scale community, within which the goods of various practices are ordered, so that, as far as possible, regard for each finds its due place within the lives of each individual, or each household, and in the life of the community at large. Because, implicitly or explicitly, it is always by reference to some conception of the overall and final human good that other goods are ordered, the life of every individual, household or community by its orderings gives expression, wittingly or unwittingly, to some conception of the human good. And it is when goods are ordered in terms of an adequate conception of human good that the virtues genuinely flourish. ‘Politics’ is the Aristotelian name for the set of activities through which goods are ordered in the life of the community.” – Alasdair MacIntyre, Preface to the Polish edition of After Virtue (quoted by Sophie-Grace Chappell in “Rôles and Reasons”)

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Old school

“I have never seen a workman as skilled as my father. His unboastful confidence in what he could do impressed me as much as his achievements. He was so at ease with his materials and always so respectful of their nature that they seemed in friendship with him, as though consenting to his touch rather than subjugated by him… this extended beyond his ironwork. As an expression of gratitude to a woman who had been kind to him he made a beautiful lace curtain, the lace included… He repaired almost everything… A superb welder, his reputation spread among the farmers in the region [upstate Victoria].  When they brought him something to weld he said, ‘If this breaks, it will not break where I weld. It will break somewhere else.’ Invariably he was right… From him I learned the relation between work and character. His sense of the importance of work and of its moral and spiritual requirements was simple and noble… If there was a fault, he accepted responsibility because he believed that it was the duty of an honest person to do so. It was inconceivable that he should do so because, for example, it would rebound on him if he did not… He regarded such prudential justifications… as shabby. The refusal of such justifications was for him… the mark of our humanity… He was deeply gratified that his work, and he through it, should become respected. Many times he told me that there are few things more important than a good name. Again, his reasons were not prudential.” – Raimond Gaita, Romulus, My Father (as quoted by Sophie-Grace Chappell in “Rôles and Reasons” (ellipses in original))

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