Morality as Understanding Human Beings
Boylu, Ayca, Department of Philosophy, University of Virginia
Cargile, James, Department of Philosophy, University of Virginia
This dissertation grew out of sharing Murdoch's deep dissatisfaction with the prevalent outlook on morality according to which "the centre of 'the moral' " is "the situation of a man making a definite choice". In the dissertation, I call this outlook to which most consequentialists, social contract theorists and Kantians subscribe, "the situation view". This dissertation can be seen as involving two processes carried out simultaneously; (i) arguing that the situation view is not just an alternate outlook on morality that is poor as Murdoch claims, but that it cannot have the necessary conceptual resources to be an outlook on morality to begin with; and, (ii) sketching a positive account of morality that resembles Murdoch's view in important ways. I argue that the prevalent situation view cannot be even an alternate outlook on morality because it employs the scientific world-view and thereby fails to leave conceptual space for the sort of moral understanding that plays the guiding role in and that gets expressed in moral behavior. On the account of morality that I propose, the center of 'the moral' is not the situation of a man making a definite choice but that of a human being understanding a human being against the backdrop of her life. One's moral behavior consists of treating human beings in certain ways, ways that are guided by and that express her purported understanding of them. Accordingly, making progress in moral behavior depends crucially on making progress in understanding human beings against the backdrop of their lives, including of course, understanding oneself against the backdrop of her life.
Note: Abstract extracted from PDF text
PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
All rights reserved (no additional license for public reuse)