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Title: Evaluation, reasoning and phenomenal concepts
Author: Vereker, Sasha
Awarding Body: King's College London (University of London)
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2013
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I defend a non-traditional version of sentimentalism about normative reasons for action. I agree with traditional Humeans, such as Blackburn and Schroeder, that desires, or, more broadly, sentiments, are necessary for normative reasons. However, instead of providing a traditional explanation for this necessity (i.e. instead of saying that I have a good reason to do something only if it promotes some desire of mine), I argue that sentiments are necessary for mastering evaluative concepts, and these concepts, in turn, are necessary for having (access to) normative reasons. In Chapter 1,1 show that reasoning alone, understood as coherence and consistency, cannot help us in discovering what we have a good reason to do. There are at least two equally consistent courses of action for a given choice, so one should be equally motivated to do them. What is missing is evaluation, but reasoning alone fails to provide it. In Chapter 2,1 argue, following Quinn and Scanlon, that Humeanism has a problem with normativity: intuitively, it creates reasons where there are none. Just because I want to do something silly, it does not make it any less silly. I argue that to overcome the problem one should admit that desires don’t create normative reasons directly, but via providing mastery of evaluative concepts, which then figure in our evaluations. In Chapter 3,1 look at empirical evidence, such as psychopathy and damage to ventromedial prefrontal sector of the brain. Patients with these conditions exhibit emotional deficiencies as well as practical irrationality. I conclude that the best explanation of some empirical evidence is the postulation of a link between sentiments and evaluations. In Chapter 4,1 demonstrate that evaluative concepts are a species of phenomenal concept. Someone who has never experienced colours lacks mastery of colour concepts; similarly, someone who has never had sentiments lacks mastery of evaluative concepts.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available