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Title: The pernicious problems of the scheme/content distinction
Author: Harrington, Brendan
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis offers a solution to the problems caused by a particular sort of philosophical project – that of attempting to identify the roots of normativity; of showing what it is that allows that we have norms which can be applied to the empirical world. Transcendental idealism sets the mould for the form of such projects as I will examine. It does so, I argue, for two reasons: (1) it considers seriously the problems inherent in taking a normatively and modally bereft world to provide criteria for the application of our norms to it, and (2), after due reflection, it allows us to see that the response it offers to such problems serves only to reiterate, in a particularly clear manner, the problems it addresses. The thesis claims we should avoid the attempt signalled in (1). We can do so, I will suggest, if we can find a way to think of the world we inhabit as thoroughly modally and normatively imbued and to take these features of the world at face value – that is, if we can find a way to think of the world being as it is which does not call for a further explanation in appeals to anything anormative. For the desire to give such explanations, I argue, ineluctably leads to a reinstatement of the very problems such explanations are a response to by divesting norms of their force. The thesis thus aims to provide a way to avoid (1), and to give examples of how if anything of the desire to give such explanations is left over once this is done, we are bound to make a mistake which is a variant of (2). In the thesis, then, transcendental idealism sets the scene for a consideration of the normativity involved in the use of descriptive language, of perception, and finally in general causality. In conclusion, I point to an alternative to the project identified above in an attempt to gain a perspicuous description of how things are as opposed to any (self-defeating, I claim) explanation of normativity in its roots.
Supervisor: Baldwin, Tom ; Debus, Dorothea Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available