Crítica, Revista Hispanoamericana de Filosofía, Volume 21, number 61, abril 1989
El principio de universalización y la razón práctica (2a. parte)
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Osvaldo Guariglia
Centro de Investigaciones Filosóficas
CONICET y Universidad de Buenos Aires


Abstract: There is no doubt that one of the issues which have been more discussed about in the contemporary ethics bibliography is that of the universalization principIe and its applications to specific cases, applications which involve sorne universalizability criteria. On discussing the problems for contemporary philosophy derived from this principie, there has been a tendency to intermingle, if not to mix up, the principle itselfwith the universalizability criteria which each author proposes to satisfy it, Opposed to this tendency, we propose to clearly separate the universalization principle from the said criteria, considering that the former provides a logical scheme which constitutes the support, the ultimate warrant, for particular moral judgements. With this procedure we intend to study the structure of such a principIe and the elements that are involved in its forrnulation; only after this examination can we have a more precise idea about what is needed in an universalizability criterion in order to use it without been exposed to strong counterexamples.
In this paper I show, first, (I) a scheme of the universalization principIe in order to clarify not only its logical structure but the different concepts that must be specified in each case so that the principIe can be applied significantly. The analysis of all the elements involved in moral discourse —human individuals, different kinds of properties, aetions, obligations and prohibitions— will show to which extent the significative application of the universalization scheme presupposes a dense weave of previous semantic, pragmatic and logico-practic rules, that constitute the first level from which moral judgement afterwards arises. This analysis once completed, I will examine (II) the function of the principle in the field of moral judgements and its main role as ultimate rule of practical reason to which it grants its peculiar form of objectivity.
For one concept that has been submerged in a deep crisis within contemporary philosophy is, undoubtedly, the concept of "practical reason". Indeed, while logic and epistemology were contributing with a certain model, in fact more and more discussed but still persistent, of "theoretical reason", what had been considered the traditional field of practical reason: human action, ethics and politics, remained imprisoned within the dilemma of either finding its place again as an object of theoretical study or being thrown forever to the realm of the unpredictable, the arbitrary, in short, the irrational. Briefly, on evaporating, together with the last remainders of philosophy of conscience,the architectural work of the three Critiques, the challenge offered by Hume when he denied all intervention of reason on moral was renewed by quite different courses. The reconstruction of a practical reason , undergone also from different positions and with propositions not always compatible, gathers together, with equal zeal, kantian heritage and its attempt to bring it at Ieast to the same level ofvalidity as reason in its theoretical use. The present paper tries to offer an examination of the irreplaceable contribution of the universalization principle to a reconstructive notion of practical reason as ultimate reason for valid moral judgements.
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