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Cover for Moral Structures: Scientific Reflections on Rationalist Themes
dc.contributor.advisorHuebner, Bryce
dc.creator
dc.date.accessioned2021-08-12T16:06:09Z
dc.date.available2021-08-12T16:06:09Z
dc.date.created2021
dc.date.issued
dc.date.submitted01/01/2021
dc.identifier.uri
dc.descriptionPh.D.
dc.description.abstractIn this dissertation, I develop a substantive, scientific account of the nature of practical normativity and then use this account to articulate an empirically tractable version of the rationalist approach to ethics. In Chapter One, I consider the basis of the longstanding problem of naturalizing practical normativity. I locate the source of this problem in a specific, pre-theoretic conception of action explanation, which reflects our justificatory practices of “explaining ourselves” to others. Given this, I argue that this problem will only have force insofar as the scientific explanation of action is also required to model these practices. Then, in Chapter Two, I demonstrate the significance of an alternative, pre-theoretic conception of action explanation—which I call normative action explanation—that takes as its paradigm the explanation of non-human action. The distinguishing feature of normative action explanation is that it works by citing an organism’s normative reasons for action rather than its motivating reasons for acting. I then develop an analysis of an organism’s normative reasons for action that grounds such reasons in the activity of living as that particular organism.
dc.description.abstractIn Chapter Three, I show that the optimality approach in behavioral ecology provides the resources needed to evaluate normative action explanations empirically and that an adequate account of the resulting optimality explanations must ground such explanations in the theory of biological autonomy—the leading scientific theory of the nature of life. I conclude that normative action explanations are equivalent in both structure and interpretation to optimality explanations, meaning that the latter is sufficient to integrate the former into the natural sciences. Finally, in Chapter Four, I show that, when this framework is applied to the human case, it makes available an empirically tractable version of the rationalist approach to ethics. On this view, moral and normative requirements derive their content and authority from our position in and dependence on the social systems of which we are a part. The result, I argue, is a rationalist characterization of moral and normative requirements that grounds such requirements in empirically evaluable facts about the relational structure of human social systems.
dc.formatPDF
dc.format.extent213 leaves
dc.languageen
dc.publisherGeorgetown University
dc.sourceGeorgetown University-Graduate School of Arts & Sciences
dc.sourcePhilosophy
dc.subjectAction theory
dc.subjectbehavioral ecology
dc.subjectbiological autonomy
dc.subjectmetaethics
dc.subjectNormativity
dc.subjectSocial systems
dc.subject.lcshPhilosophy
dc.subject.lcshEthics
dc.subject.lcshScience -- Philosophy
dc.subject.otherPhilosophy
dc.subject.otherEthics
dc.subject.otherPhilosophy of science
dc.titleMoral Structures: Scientific Reflections on Rationalist Themes
dc.typethesis
dc.identifier.orcid0000-0002-7113-3869


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