Thursday, January 04, 2018

Summary of Thesis Project

I have finished Hursthouse’s book On Virtue Ethics. My next project will be to write a commentary on it, using the research notes that I wrote into the previous 18 posts.

The key difference between my proposition . . .

The right act is the act that a person with good motives and lacking bad motives would have performed in the circumstances

. . . and her thesis . . .

An act is right iff it is the act that the virtuous agent would characteristically (acting in character) do in the circumstances

. . . focuses on the proposition

There is no end but that desire makes it so.

I hold that this proposition is true.

Hursthouse holds that it is false. Hursthouse builds her theory on demonstrating the existence of four "naturalistic ends," and then adds the distinctly human trait involving the capacity to apply reason to determine if a state conforms to these ends (which no plant or animal can do).

So, this is going to become the second chapter of my Master's Thesis.

The first chapter will deal with the proposition:

The right act is the act that a person with good motives and lacking bad motives would do in the circumstances.

This will be a rewritten and more detailed version of my Ethics Proseminar paper: Sidgwick on Motives and Right Action. You can find the most recent version of that paper on the documents page of the desirism site.

But that will lead to a discussion of good and bad desires, which will have to do with ends, where . . . in Chapter 2 . . . I will defend the thesis that there are no ends but that desire makes them so. That will discuss desire as a propositional attitude - a motivational reason to make or keep true the proposition that is the object of a desire state.

More specifically, the chapter will:

(1) State the proposition to be defended: "There is no end but that desire makes it so."
(2) What is a desire? (Desire as propositional attitude.)
(3) Good desires: Desires that tend to fulfill other desires. Desires that people generally have reason to promote universally.
(4) Argument from evolution that our desires evolved, not to perceive some natural end, but to serve fitness. (Sharon Street's argument, "A Darwinian Dilemma for Moral Realism")
(5) A terminology aside - a dispute over the terms "objective morality" and "moral realism".
(6) Rosalind Husthouse's "naturalistic ends".
(7) Conclusion: My thesis of right action is better than Rosalind Hursthouse's thesis of right action

This should be a basic defense of desirism. Let's see if I can get it approved as a thesis.

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