Morality and the person : the person is the touchstone for morality

Date

2010-12

Authors

Oakley, Katherine Louise

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Publisher

Abstract

This thesis is concerned with tracing out the manifold connections between personhood and morality to argue that morality is based on fundamental properties of the person, and therefore a moral philosophy that ignores or truncates the person is one that fails to understand the central function of morality in our social practices and understanding of the self. It is at the same time to argue that morality is integral to personhood and enters the construct of the person at the most basic level. My method is to exploit our sense that our concept of the person exists to capture that which makes us more than natural beings. First, persons must self-define. What it is to be a person is not given. Persons, and each person, must create an ideal of the person to act, and through action try to realize that ideal and through that process in fact realize themselves. Second, the human psyche has its own needs and drives unrelated to those of the physical being that propel the being towards personhood. Third, persons have depth. When we recognize a being to be a person, it is evidence of depth that we recognize. Without depth persons would not be. We have evolved a specialized vocabulary -- a moral vocabulary -- that both recognizes that depth and facilitates its creation. Together these entail that the person cannot be constructed without that construct being eventually set in moral terms, and that sociality is a basic unit of analysis of the person: persons exist as beings who recognize each other and exist in a matrix of recognition within which persons come to be. In as much as existing as a person is the proper form of existence for our kind and personhood is dependent on the voluntary activity of other persons, existence as a person must as far as possible be guaranteed. This is the foundational task of morality and the source of its basic requirements.

Department

Description

text

Keywords

LCSH Subject Headings

Citation