The Deliberative Landscape: An Essay in Moral Psychology

Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh (1994)

Authors
Candace Vogler
University of Chicago
Abstract
My thesis is an investigation of moral psychology, where 'moral' is roughly synonymous with 'practical', and psychology is bound by an understanding of action on one side, and by some thoughts about reasonableness or rationality on the other. The form my investigation takes is one of arguing against an instrumentalist conception of practical reason, with its attendant belief-desire philosophical psychology, and suggesting a different way of thinking about practical rationality, and, through it, moral psychology. I take this tack because I think that views in moral psychology take their shape from underlying pictures of practical rationality. ;The first chapter gives the broad outlines of instrumentalism as a theory of practical rationality and introduces the standard objection to instrumentalism: that instrumentalism leaves primary ends dangling unsupported by reasons and unacceptably arbitrary. The chapter concludes by surveying and rejecting various responses the instrumentalist might make to the arbitrariness objection. The second chapter begins with John Stuart Mill's account of his mental crisis. I argue that Mill was an instrumentalist, that his mental crisis can be read as an embodiment of the arbitrariness objection, and that if we trace various strands through his corpus, we can find two approaches to handling the threat of arbitrariness: the first, an instrumentalist approach which bears striking similarities to some of the efforts of some contemporary moral philosophers, the second, an inchoate rejection of instrumentalism. My third chapter begins with a discussion of the inchoate non-instrumental moral psychology as it surfaces in On Liberty and, at moments, in Utilitarianism. I use Mill as a point of departure for arguing that if there are reasons for action, then there must be non-instrumental reasons for action. My argument draws heavily on Elizabeth Anscombe's Intention. In the final chapter, I consider and answer various objections to this argument, sketching the outlines of a picture of non-instrumental moral psychology as I go.
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