PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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EmbargoRelease after 06-Sep-2019
AbstractNormative reasons for attitudes are facts that count in favor of those attitudes, but a fact can favor an attitude in two very different ways. One way in which a fact can favor an attitude is by making the attitude fitting (apt, merited, correct). For example, the fact that Sharon spends much of her time doing charity work is a fact that favors admiring Sharon, since it’s a fact that makes her admirable, and so fit to admire. Call any fact that favors an attitude by making it fitting a "fit-related reason." A second way in which a fact can favor an attitude is by making the attitude somehow valuable, or good to have. For example, the fact that an evil dictator will order my execution unless I admire him is a fact that favors my admiring the dictator, since it's a fact that makes my admiring him good. Call any fact that favors an attitude by making it somehow good to have a "value-related reason." This dissertation has two main goals. The first is to develop an ontology of normativity that can accommodate a view on which both fit- and value-related reasons are genuine reasons. Many authors, including Derek Parfit, T.M. Scanlon, and Mark Schroeder, favor a "reasons-first" ontology of normativity: they take reasons to be normatively basic, and claim that all other normative facts, properties, and relations can be analyzed or accounted for in terms of the reason relation. A central alternative, famously defended by G.E. Moore in Principia Ethica, is the "value-first" ontology—an ontology that takes value or goodness to be normatively basic and claims that the rest of the normative can be accounted for in terms of the property of being good. In the opening chapter of my dissertation, "The Fundamentality of Fit," I advance an ontology of normativity, originally suggested by Franz Brentano and A.C. Ewing, according to which fittingness is the basic normative relation, in terms of which the rest of the normative can be explained. I argue that neither the reasons- nor the value-first ontology can accommodate a view on which both fit- and value-related reasons are genuine reasons. Then I explain how my "fittingness-first" ontology can. Of course, any threat to the plausibility of the view that both fit- and value-related reasons are genuine reasons would undermine the case for my ontology of normativity. And so a full defense of my fittingness-first ontology will require a systematic defense of the substantive normative view it's designed to accommodate. The second goal of my dissertation is to provide this defense. A normative view that says that both fit- and value-related reasons are genuine reasons consists in three component claims: (1) that fit-related reasons are genuine reasons; (2) that value-related reasons are genuine reasons; and (3) that fit- and value-related reasons can be compared against one another to yield univocal verdicts concerning what attitudes one ought, all-things-considered, to have. The first of these claims—that fit-related reasons are genuine reasons—is among the most widely shared in contemporary normative theory. The latter two, however, are more controversial. In the second and third chapters of this dissertation, I defend each of these claims in turn. One way to showcase the plausibility of a normative view that says that both fit- and value-related reasons are genuine reasons is to show that it explains our intuitions in a variety of substantive normative debates. This would, in turn, provide support for my fittingness-first ontology, since, relative to its main competitors, my ontology uniquely accommodates and predicts such a view. In the final chapter, I put this methodological observation into practice by testing the substantive normative predictions of my fittingness-first view against our intuitions in the debate concerning what kinds of considerations can provide reasons for love. I argue that acknowledging the existence of both fit- and value-related reasons for love solves a number of persistent problems in this debate.
Degree ProgramGraduate College