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Title: A principled approach to decision-making which appears not to be guided by principles
Author: Lechler, Andrea
ISNI:       0000 0004 2716 9500
Awarding Body: University of Reading
Current Institution: University of Reading
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis reconciles an interest in decision-making which appears not to be guided by principles with a defence of a philosophical search for action-guiding principles. Chapter 2 defines the relevant sort of philosophical reflection as very general and explicit practical reasoning. Chapter 3 distinguishes different types of principles in which such philosophical reflection might result. Chapter 4 argues that putting the resulting principles into practice does not need to be as impractical as it is often portrayed because an agent can learn to respond in accordance with her principles without having to consciously invoke them all the time. Chapter 5 refutes the claim that we cannot receive much guidance from such principles because the real work in following a principle is done by something other than the principle. Chapters 6 and 7 consider the idea that one needs to use 'judgement' in order to supplement the guidance offered by principles. It is argued that practical philosophizing can guide one's judgement via the defence of methodical principles, i.e. principles which specify a decision- making method. As it is unlikely that any such method can be proven to reliably guide one correctly, it seems sensible to be conservative and carry on with one's current way of making decisions. However, given that one's present method may be flawed, it is also reasonable to try to learn. This can be done by being open and highly attentive while following one's feelings about what would be the right way to respond to the situation. Interestingly this method is reminiscent of the sort of decision-making which particularists and other opponents of principles describe. Yet my arguments only help an opponent of principles who has tried to justify substantive principles and failed. One cannot philosophically defend such methodical principles while refusing to search for justifiable substantive principles.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available