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Moral Agents in a Moral World: A New Account of Moral Realism and Moral Perception

Mason, L. M. (2021) Moral Agents in a Moral World: A New Account of Moral Realism and Moral Perception. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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To link to this item DOI: 10.48683/1926.00100409


The purpose of this thesis is to provide a metaphysic for moral realism and moral perception. This thesis is in two parts. The first is concerned with basic ontology. I begin in chapter 1 with an analysis of causation, demonstrating that substance theory is superior to Humeanism at accounting for our observations; thus I defend a substance ontology. In chapter 2, I address human agency, demonstrating that reasons internalism does not allow for incompatibilist freedom; hence, I affirm reasons are states of affairs. I move on to qualia in chapter 3, demonstrating that arguments both for and against qualia realism involve question begging. In response, I argue that qualia realism is just as reasonable as anti-realism, and affirm realism. Given this, I address the mind-body problem in chapter 4, demonstrating the failure of physicalists to account for mental causation. I conclude that panpsychism, idealism, and substance dualism are equal reasonable alternatives: each allows for intrinsic properties, which are integral to substance ontology. The second part builds a moral ontology, along with an account of moral perceptual knowledge, compatible with the above basic ontology. In chapter 5, I reject moral properties as monadic since this would bar mapping moral concepts onto mind-independent reality. Instead, I argue that moral properties are relations. More specifically, in chapter 6, I make the case that they are features of relations, relations themselves being the total complex states of affairs between one or more substances. This allows moral properties to have their own nonreducible phenomenal quality. To account for moral normativity, I argue that moral features are actually a class of causal features, and briefly argue that final causes determine the normative causal trajectory of all substances. In chapter 7, I conclude this thesis with addressing possible objections to my theory of perception and perceptual knowledge.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Oderberg, D. and Elson, L.
Thesis/Report Department:Department of Philosophy
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Humanities > Philosophy
ID Code:100409


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