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  • About
  • The Global ETD Search service is a free service for researchers to find electronic theses and dissertations. This service is provided by the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations.
    Our metadata is collected from universities around the world. If you manage a university/consortium/country archive and want to be added, details can be found on the NDLTD website.

Belief, reasons, and irrationality

Edwards, S. A. January 2013 (has links)
In this thesis, we explore the question: What is a belief? We do so by considering the folk psychological concept of belief and attempting to unearth some constitutive features of it. We argue that, according to this concept, there is a significant relationship between belief and reasons: one which reveals that beliefs aim at truth, as Bernard Williams (1973) once famously put it. We argue for a particular interpretation of this claim, according to which it is to be understood as follows: (R): It is constitutive of belief that if it is consciously regulated, it is so-regulated solely for truth; and (C): It is constitutive of belief that it is correct if and only if its contents are true. We maintain that (C) explains why it is that (R) is true. So, belief is at base a normative concept: the question as to why one holds a particular belief can always be raised. We then explore two irrational phenomena – self-deception and delusion – and further unravel what (R) and (C) involve, as well as shedding some light on the phenomena themselves. We argue for a position we call doxastic minimalism about self-deception, according to which, in the paradigm case, the self-deceiver holds neither their undesired belief that p nor their desired belief that ~p. This is because they do not have attitudes to these contents that meet conditions (R) and (C). Similarly, we argue that although cases of delusion vary significantly, in some extreme cases, the subject does not seem to relate to the content of their delusion in a manner that meets (R) and (C), and hence ought not to be attributed a belief in such contents.

The role of concepts in Kant's account of aesthetic experience

Smith, S. D. January 2013 (has links)
The thesis begins by exploring Kant's account of cognition as it is presented within the Critique of Pure Reason, particularly with reference to the conceptualist/non-conceptualist debate as it has developed over recent years. I argue that there is an important non-conceptualist position within Kant's account that concerns the unity of space and time as non-conceptual intuitive wholes. This argument will be used in discussing and exploring Kant's account of both aesthetic receptivity and aesthetic creativity as presented within the Critique of Judgement. My exploration of this third Critique will begin by looking at Kant's account of the harmony of the faculties and how we should understand the sense in which our aesthetic response is a non-conceptually determined one. The same concern will apply to an analysis of Kant's account of the mathematical sublime, and in the later stages of this discussion we will find an interesting relation between Kant's account of the role of infinity (space and time as unified wholes), and our earlier argument concerning space and time as formal intuitive wholes. After this focus upon the conditions of aesthetic receptivity my focus shifts towards aesthetic creativity as presented in Kant's account of fine art and genius. The main focus here will be with Kant's remark that art, in order to be art, must seem like nature. I will argue that this statement must be understood in two interdependent ways, where the first element concerns the formal construction of a representation so that it looks like nature in the sense of being a unified and readable representation. I will argue that artistic creativity at this level is the precondition of the second sense in which art must seem like nature, which concerns the content of a representation, and that a non-conceptual intuitional base is essential to this end.

Art and philosophy in Hegel's system

Peters, Julia Helene January 2009 (has links)
My thesis addresses a puzzle concerning Hegel's notion of the value of beauty. On the one hand, the contemplation of beauty, in particular artistic beauty, has the same status for Hegel as philosophical knowledge, since through both, we come to grasp the absolute truth: the unity of spirit and nature, or of the human individual and the world it lives in. On the other hand, Hegel thinks that the aesthetic unity of spirit and nature is in some way deficient, when compared to the unity we come to grasp through philosophical knowledge. Thus Hegel claims that philosophy and art have the same content, while philosophy is higher than art. I suggest that this puzzle can be dissolved if we consider that beautiful art, for Hegel, is associated with a form of life, in which the aesthetic unity of spirit and nature becomes social and political reality: the ancient Greek polis. Since the social and political structure of the polis inevitably leads to tragic collisions, Hegel concludes that the value of beauty provides no ground for establishing an ultimate unity of the human individual and the world it lives in. In Hegel's view, it is only philosophical reflection, and the social and political institutions which emerge from such reflection, which can provide an adequate ground for ultimate reconciliation. Nevertheless, I argue, the contemplation of beauty remains a perfectly adequate way of grasping, if not establishing, this unity. Hence according to the interpretation I propose, philosophy is higher than art in a twofold sense for Hegel. On the one hand, it serves a critical function with respect to the value of beauty: it points out the limits of beauty, in particular the fact that beauty is incapable of making the unity of spirit and nature concrete and real, by turning it into social and political reality. On the other hand, philosophy redeems the promise which is left unfulfilled by beauty: to establish an ultimate unity of spirit and nature, of human individual and the world it lives in.

Realistic fictionalism

Jay, C. T. January 2012 (has links)
Realistic Fictionalism, argues for two main claims: First, that there is no conceptual or logical incoherence in the idea of a fictionalist theory of some discourse which accommodates a form of realism about that discourse (a claim which has been made in passing by various people, but which has never been adequately explored and assessed); and Second, that just such a fictionalist theory promises to be the best theory of our ordinary moral commitments, judgements and deliberation. In Part I, I explore the spirit of fictionalism and argue that thinking of fictionalism as closely tied to an analogy between its target discourse and fiction is liable to be misleading and is not mandatory. It emerges that the fictionalist’s strategy requires just a semantic thesis (representationalism) and a thesis about the sort of ‘acceptance’ appropriate for some practice involving their target discourse (nondoxasticism). I offer a theory of what ‘acceptance’ is, which treats belief as a mode of acceptance and distinguishes the nondoxastic modes of acceptance from belief in a principled and independently plausible way. And I argue that the coherence of realistic fictionalism is preserved by the fact that a person (the realistic fictionalist) can perfectly coherently both believe and nondoxastically accept the same claims. In Part II, I employ the theory of acceptance developed in Part I to propose a fictionalist model of how our ordinary moral commitments often are and generally ought to be. I then give an argument to the conclusion that, in respect of the relation between moral commitment and action guiding at least, it would be better if our moral commitments were to be nondoxastic. I then argue that realistic fictionalism offers a better way of explaining why we ought to have any moral commitments at all than a non-realist fictionalist theory could.

Egalitarianism with a human face

Wollner, G. January 2011 (has links)
My thesis vindicates the ideal of egalitarianism with a human face by answering the threefold challenge that contemporary egalitarians fail to capture what really matters when it comes to distributions of burdens and benefits among human beings, that egalitarian concerns apply only within specific institutional contexts, and that there is no account of human nature that would furnish a commitment to distributive equality with a coherent foundation. The ideal of egalitarianism with a human face marks a turn against both non-egalitarian variants of humanism and non-humanist variants of egalitarianism. My thesis is divided into three parts. The first set of arguments offers a powerful line of reasoning in support of the claim that our concern for the wellbeing of other people is egalitarian. I argue that the principle of equality is in two important respects superior to both the priority view and a contractualist commitment to strict priority. The second set of arguments maintains that whether or not our concern for other people is egalitarian does not depend on wether individuals share a common institution. I argue against the recently prominent idea that whether some are worse off than others matters only among individuals who stand in a particular relation to each other. The final set of arguments advocates a common humanity account of basic equality. I argue that the idea of common humanity offers a promising approach to many of the problems associated with the question of basic equality and may be invoked in support of the claim that nobody should be better or worse off than anybody else through no choice or fault of his or her own.

The grounds and scope of egalitarian justice

Hampson, S. D. January 2009 (has links)
The main problem that the thesis is concerned with is: in which contexts is the maintenance of inequalities in the distribution of social goods unjust, and why is it unjust in these contexts? The thesis has three main sections. In the first section I reject Thomas Nagel's argument that, even when applied to only the coercive institutions of the state, egalitarian principles could be reasonably rejected on the grounds that they would be overly demanding on those who could be better off in feasible non-egalitarian distributions. In rejecting Nagel's position, I argue that coercion involves a particular justificatory problem which rules out the considerations of partiality that Nagel appeals to from being grounds for reasonable rejection of principles of justice in this context. The focus of the second section is whether egalitarian principles of distributive justice might apply beyond the coercive institutions of the state - to, for example, the broader set of institutions which make up the 'basic structure' of a system of social cooperation. I argue against the recent work of Michael Blake and Thomas Nagel and conclude that institutional coercion, while sufficient to ground egalitarian principles of distributive justice, is not necessary. Non-coercive interactions in which one has no reasonable alternative but to comply with another's will may also raise the justificatory problems which lead us to egalitarianism. The third section discusses whether principles of egalitarian distributive justice apply beyond institutions, and to personal decisions, through what G.A. Cohen has called an 'egalitarian ethos'. I argue that while no compelling ground for the egalitarian ethos has yet been given, the arguments against it in the recent literature are also flawed. In particular, I argue that the objections that an egalitarian ethos would be overly 'demanding' or fail to meet a 'publicity constraint’ are not convincing.

Universals as respects of sameness

Peacock, H. J. J. January 2010 (has links)
This thesis argues for realism about universals—the view that, in addition to particular things, there exist universals instantiated by those particular things. The first half presents a positive case for realism. Here it is claimed that universals are needed in our ontology to serve as the respects in which things are the same, and the features or characteristics that things have in common.This argument is defended against nominalist responses, first, that our apparent ‘ontological commitment’ to features and characteristics is not genuine; and second, that the same theoretical work can be achieved by treating respects of sameness as sets of particulars or sets of tropes rather than sui generis universals.The second half of the thesis defends the realist against the most serious objections to an ontology of universals. These are the problems arising from the realist’s obligation to ascribe referential function to predicates, and the family of difficulties known as ‘‘Bradley’s Regress’’. By addressing both the reasons to believe in universals, and the alleged reasons not to believe in universals, it is hoped that a coherent case for realism is achieved.

The problem of individuality and its implications for modern idealism

Deshmukh, C. January 1933 (has links)
It is characteristic of Idealism to the study the nature of individuality by an examination of knowledge and value. The basic principle of individuality is revealed in the structure of experience. The organisation of the contents of human experience - theoretical and practical - can only be understood in terms of value. Value is the main clue to understand the nature of Individuality. Even the apparent evil in life can be understood in terms of value. The essence of the concept of teleology consists in the presence of value in the result and not in the full anticipation of the end. In the light of this analysis it is possible to understand the lower types of Individuality in terms of the higher. Human personality is distinguished from the lower types of individuality by the presence of selfconsciousness. The development of the 'me' is largely a result of social, intercourse, and the unification of the constituent `selves' in the 'me' posits the operation of the Ideal Norm. The trans-subjective reality of the storm is also responsible for the objective significance of human values. The finite individual has a relative independence of his own. But the development of human personality is throughout conditioned by the sharing in the social and the divine life. The religious consciousness reveals the spiritual unity of all the finite individuals in an Infinite and supra-personal Life. From the finite point of view the world of manifestation on is characterised by its differentiation into a multiplicity of relatively independent and mutually distinct finite individuals. But it seems impossible to carry this multiplicity into the Eternal manifest which is the ground of Manifestation.

A defence of analyticity

Tait, D. I. January 2011 (has links)
There is prima facie reason to suppose that there are analytic truths, our knowledge of which is explained simply by our understanding them. One recent line of argument challenges this view on the grounds that, for any given proposition, it is always possible to understand it without knowing it. If understanding is to explain our knowledge of certain truths, then, how is it possible for someone to understand them and yet fail to know them? We can accommodate these cases of disagreement by construing the epistemic state in which a subject is placed by understanding an analytic truth as one of being in a position to know. In understanding an analytic truth, a subject may have the epistemic resources required for knowledge and yet be unable to exploit this position; this allows for the possibility that in those cases where a subject does know such a truth, the knowledge is explained by the subject’s understanding. This sense of being in a position to know receives support from the need for such a notion in describing certain features of our perceptual knowledge. Understanding an analytic truth enables a subject to recognise that its truth-conditions must be fulfilled. This is ultimately made possible by there being certain propositions that have the status of structuring the linguistic practice in which the subject participates. These propositions are held fixed as we evaluate the possible ways that the world could be and so come out as true in all possible worlds. A subject who is sufficiently integrated within the practice and who understands an analytic truth is thereby in a position to recognise its status within the practice. Using this model we can identify two kinds of disagreement consistent with the claim that understanding an analytic truth puts one in a position to know it.

Perceptual justification and the phenomenology of experience

Willhoft, J. D. January 2011 (has links)
This thesis seeks to provide an explanation of what I call the Basic Principle about Perceptual Justification which states that if a subject S has a perceptual experience as of a mind-independent object x being F (or in which it appears to him as if an x is F), and forms the belief that an x is F on the basis of having an experience of this phenomenological sort, then (perhaps provided certain further conditions obtain) S‘s belief that an x is F is prima facie justified for S. I distinguish between two conceptions of epistemic justification. Roughly, on an objective conception, a subject S has a justified belief that p if he bases this belief on grounds that entail or make likely the truth of p, while on a subjective conception a subject S has a justified belief that p if he forms this belief on the basis of his occupying a perspective from which a situation obtains that entails or makes likely the truth of p. I argue that the truth of the Basic Principle can be derived, in part, from facts about the phenomenal character of perceptual experience. In particular, I argue that the Basic Principle can be explained by saying that the subject‘s perceptual experience can provide him with justification for believing that an x is F in the subjective sense and that it does so, in part, in virtue of its phenomenal character. I also address the question of whether perceptual experiences can provide us with immediate justification for believing propositions about our environment, that is, with justification that does not depend on our having independent justification for believing other propositions such as the proposition that perceptual experiences are generally reliable. To this end, I consider the so-called problem of easy knowledge and argue that the issues concerning this problem should not compel us into thinking that perceptual justification cannot be immediate.

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