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Title:Thinking for yourself: A more personal and particular approach to Kantian ethics
Author(s):McNair, Theodore Fell
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Baron, Marcia W.
Department / Program:Philosophy
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract:My aim in writing this dissertation is to develop a version of Kant's universality test that is especially responsive to the particular context of our moral choices. Yet one might fear that if Kantian ethics tries to make room for particularity in our moral judgments, it may also make room for so many exceptions to the principles of morality that it will lead to the sort of moral relativism that can justify anything. The key, then, is to develop a method for applying the universality test that enables us to come to firm conclusions about particular cases without forcing us to generalize those conclusions to contexts where we would have good reasons for judging differently.
This dissertation describes a new, holistic method for applying Kant's universality test that asks for consistency among all the elements of our practical reasoning (including whatever sincere reasons we might have for adapting our particular moral choices to particular circumstances), and does not allow us to justify our moral choices if they could be universalized only under fortuitous circumstances that are unrelated to the reasons behind them. I take the range of application for this version of the universality test to encompass not only our immediate intentions, values and factual beliefs, but also the criteria that we choose to employ in deciding what to value and what to believe. I concede that this version of the test will not enable us to isolate a unique and universally correct system of moral values. Nevertheless I will argue (largely by the use of examples) that it can still constrain our intentions strongly enough to rule out nearly all forms of conduct that we would consider unfair, hypocritical, or otherwise clearly immoral.
Issue Date:1994
Rights Information:Copyright 1994 McNair, Theodore Fell
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9512484
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9512484

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