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Title: Growing in goodness
Author: Badman-King, Alexander
ISNI:       0000 0004 6498 503X
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2016
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At its core, this book represents an attempt to outline and clarify a concept of ‘wisdom’. Building upon an established tradition of ‘philosophy as a way of life’ the discussion focuses on an understanding of a model of philosophy which sets a union of the virtues as its ultimate goal (finding models of non-ethical and primarily academic philosophy to be lacking). Aristotle’s practical wisdom and Plato’s humble, human wisdom are found to be complimentary in certain key respects and useful (in conjunction) in describing the nature of this ‘wisdom’ as a state of moral expertise and broad insight (an understanding of, and action according to, that which is most important). An account is given of the kind of moderate moral realism which is able to account for the ‘moral facts’ which are necessary to render this sort of moral knowledge viable. This moderate realism is founded upon a similarly moderate or compromising epistemology which will itself constitute a recurring theme of this ‘wisdom’. Moving from this metaethical and epistemological fuondation, some account is given of the sort of practical means by which this moral knowledge might be arrived at with the suggestion that traditional analytic and cogitative practices must be combined with far more anthropological ‘living-with’ practices in order that this moral learning can be plausible. Further to this suggestion of an amalgam of philosophy and anthropology, an effort is made to describe the sense in which aesthetic and ethical insight converge in this process of recognising moral knowledge and that, as such, ‘true philosophy’ must also allow for artistic (particularly narrative and poetic) methods. Having made a case for the practice of philosophy to move substantially away from its conventional means, the latter half of the book sets out a specific model of ‘living-with philosophy’ in an attempt to demonstrate this novel model of philosophy and the more detailed nature of wisdom. This ‘case study’ takes the shape of living-with other living things and the stories and lessons which have unfolded through the author’s own life with the non-human world. Due to the fundamental (practically, emotionally and conceptually fundamental) and particularly varied nature of living with (by and through) non-human life, organic vegetable gardening is taken as a good (if not the best) means of realising this process of moral learning. This discussion focuses upon the way in which close living with non-human life can and should highlight the manner in which various virtues which are fundamental to a union of virtue can appear to be in conflict (particularly what might be called ‘compassion’ and ‘prudence’). Ultimately an attempt is made to describe the way in which these conflicts can and should be found to be complimentary to the realisation of wisdom through a subtle, complex but intuitive process of balancing. The book concludes with an examination of this act of balancing, particularly ‘in the face of death’, and the way in which it is commensurate with moods and attitudes of quietness, poignancy and good humour. It is found that wisdom, the union of virtues, is more than the sum of its parts, that it is characterised particularly by these kinds of attitude (echoing the moderation and humility explored at the outset).
Supervisor: Hauskeller, Michael Sponsor: University of Exeter
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Ethics ; Moral Realism ; Gardening ; Philosophy as a Way of Life ; Animal Ethics ; Symbiotic Ethics