Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

An evolutionary approach to intuitionism and moral realism
by Basik, Nathan, Ph.D., Indiana University, 2008, 333; 3344560
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation supports universalistic trends in political thought by arguing for a physiologically based moral sense underlying a realist version of evolutionary ethics. The project begins by arguing for a methodological anarchy that paradoxically works against the epistemological gap between natural and social science embodied in the "bifurcation thesis." Chapter Two examines the roots of moral intuitionism, and stresses the contradiction between the ubiquity of intuitions in moral philosophy and the simultaneous rejection of intuitionism, a contradiction that motivates the effort to ground moral intuitions more rigorously in physiology. Chapter Three extends the argument for naturalistic moral psychology by demonstrating how it could complement, rather than contradict, Charles Taylor's notions of moral frameworks and ontology. The ways in which conceptual and technological advances in science are being applied to moral philosophy are treated in Chapter Four. Chapter Five defends moral realism, but since evolutionary ethics is widely construed as a nonrealist position, Chapter Six uses evolutionary convergence to support the compatibility of evolutionary and realist moral perspectives. The final chapter briefly considers some relativistic concerns before sketching an evolutionary realist stance and applying it to several concrete issues generally regarded as moral concerns. Evolutionary moral realism simultaneously contributes to second order ontological and epistemological debates and clarifies positions regarding first order normative principles, such as consequentialism and contractualism. For both philosophers and scientists the broadest contribution of evolutionary realism is the notion that progress on any of these debates within moral philosophy will require integrating abstract theory with concrete empirical findings.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Hanson, Russell
Commitee: Craiutu, Aurelian, Isaac, Jeffrey, Todd, Peter
School: Indiana University
Department: Political Science
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: DAI-A 70/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Philosophy, Political science
Keywords: Ethics, Evolutionary ethics, Intuitionism, Moral realism, Moral sense
Publication Number: 3344560
ISBN: 9781109027044
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