This paper supplies a critique of James Kellenberger’s thesis that relationships are deeper than principles (such as principles of obligation) because principles derive from and are determined by relationships. Relationships are admittedly sometimes normative, but it is implausible that an acceptable general theory of normativity can be based on this fact. The first section concerns Kellenberger’s initial thesis, which derives normativity from actual relationships. The following two sections concern his revised thesis, disclosed two-thirds of the way through his article, that normativity is conferred by proper relationships and is not conferred by bad ones. I proceed to investigate in the following section (as I have also done in publications elsewhere) the possibility that morality involves impersonal obligations as well as personal ones, and for this reason, if for no other, its nature fails to cohere with Kellenberger’s claims about relationships underlying morality in general. In a final section, I present a quite different account of the possible sources of normativity, which may help to explain the normativity of principles, and might even help explain that of relationships as well.


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pp. 51-66
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