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Title: Convention, reflection, and agency
Author: Faulconbridge, Peter Rupert
ISNI:       0000 0004 8507 557X
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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I develop a novel account of the ontology of conventions, rules, and norms, before applying this account in an investigation of their explanatory and practical roles. Conventions, rules, and norms belong to the metaphysical category I call 'abstract individuals'. Conventions are multiply instantiable but are also individuated by reference to historical factors, namely precedents. These features are characteristic of abstract individuals in general, which therefore contrast with members of the categories of both pure universals and concrete particulars. In the first part of the thesis I elaborate on this metaphysical category, and show that conventions belong to it. I then defend the empirical adequacy of this view from certain arguments in the literature on cultural diffusion. The second part demonstrates how this view can encompass 'implicit' norms, and norms governing non-intentional behaviour. I also show how conventions, considered as abstract individuals, can have practical significance for us. This prepares the way for the final two chapters, which apply the ontology developed earlier to questions about the place of rules in practical reasoning. I argue that rules of various kinds are treated by deliberators, as well as those who would understand and evaluate their actions, as sources of 'requirement'. Standard approaches to rulebased practical reasons fail to account for the phenomenon of requirement, in part due to an inadequate ontology of rules. My positive account develops on Michael Thompson's discussion of 'practical generality'. The metaphysical 'generality' of rules, understood as abstract individuals, is key to explaining the sense of requirement which attaches to them. However, I argue against certain assumptions in Thompson's work, which limit his account to rarefied practices associated with justice, such as promising. Modifying these assumptions, I will show, allows us to employ my ontology of ordinary practices to understand the practical role of rules of all kinds.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available