What Should Be? Navigating Moral Exemplarity and Its Categorical Imperative





Exemplar, Moral Exemplarity, Kant, Categorical imperative, Sensus communis


This essay explores the notion of moral exemplarity, positing that our morality is underpinned by moral exemplars – paradigmatic examples of virtuous individuals or actions. Theoretical precepts of moral exemplarity are explored across historical and contemporary contexts, including the philosophies of Plato, Aristotle, Stoic and Christian ethics, and recent works of Alexandro Ferrara and Linda Zagzebski. This essay debates the necessity of moral exemplars, the intrinsic moral and epistemic exemplarity, and the distinction between categorical and hypothetical exemplarity, as well as referencing the paradoxical Kantian dismissals of moral exemplarity. It critiques current accounts of moral exemplarity and proposes a transcendental explanation, culminating in an examination of the “exemplarist categorical imperative.”


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