Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, Lewis & Clark College

Acceptance versus Being in the Grip

Added on by jay odenbaugh.
Allan Gibbard, by Steven Pyke

Allan Gibbard, by Steven Pyke

According to Allan Gibbard, to judge that x is morally wrong is to express acceptance of a system of norms which permit feeling guilt for x-ing and resentment towards those who x. He wants to distinguish between accepting a norm and being in the grip of a norm.

With regard to the former, he write, 

To accept a norm, we might say, is in part to be disposed to avoid it in unconstrained normative discussion, as a result of the workings of demands for consistency in the positions one takes in normative discussion. (74) 

Question: What then is the difference between accepting a norm and being in the grip of a norm?  Why does the distinction matter for Gibbard?