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A Humean metaphysics of character

Chambers, Ethan 2018. A Humean metaphysics of character. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Abstract

The primary aim of this thesis is to analyse the tension between Humean epistemology and Humean ethics. The tension is identified as being due to the strict Humean empiricist epistemology, which severely limits the scope of ethical investigation. A key point of contrast, between Hume’s bundle theory of the self and his commitment to long-term durable character traits, is analysed, to exemplify the difficulties. Humean empiricism leads directly to a bundle conception of the self, one that is comprised entirely of observable impressions and ideas, yet it is unclear how this conception is related to durable character traits, which are an integral part of Humean ethics. The solution offered is that, to be understood coherently, Humean metaphysics should incorporate aspects of powers-based ontologies to replace summative models. Specifically, character traits such as virtues and vices should be understood as tending towards an outcome, rather than adhering to a standard stimulus-response dispositional model. It is argued that this reconceptualization can be achieved without contravening Humean epistemology in any significant way, and that it can be done while maintaining the basic Humean principle that all ideas must precede from a corresponding impression. This thesis will conclude that adopting the metaphysics of powers in a limited sphere of investigation can lead to a stronger Humean metaphysics of character and eliminate contradictions from Humean philosophy as a whole.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 May 2018
Last Modified: 05 Jun 2019 01:55
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/111840

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