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Publication Detail
Towards a Critical Realist Ethics
  • Publication Type:
  • Authors:
    Ozmen O
  • Date awarded:
  • Pagination:
    1, 185
  • Awarding institution:
    University College London
  • Language:
  • Date Submitted:
  • Keywords:
    Critical Realism, Ethics
This work is an extrapolation, critical analysis, defence and development of critical realist (CR) moral philosophy. CR’s main contribution to ethics is considered to be its theory of explanatory critiques (TEC), which rests on moral realism and ethical naturalism, at a critical distance from both utilitarianism and Kantian abstract universalism. In this thesis I argue for the necessity of a realist metaphysics for an emancipatory ethics, recasting the realist character of this metaphysics in terms of anti-anthropism; I show how TEC works in practice by portraying Marx’s analysis of the capitalist mode of production as a paradigm case; and I discuss the history of the dialecticisation of CR, focusing on ethical categories. I argue that this dialecticisation does not only inherit TEC, but sublates it, ushering in novel concepts in a shift from a formal refutation of ‘Hume’s law’ to a deeper ontology with substantial anthropological underpinnings. I situate the precursors of CR’s ethics in ancient Greek philosophy, and I lay out the distinctly Aristotelian, Marxian and dialectical characteristics of CR’s ethico-politics. More particularly, I align CR more closely with virtue theory than the other two major contemporary ethical positions, i.e. consequentialism and deontology, and suggest that virtue theory, once supported with a robustly realist, properly socialized and emancipatory philosophical footing, could be strong allies with CR. I try to show that in fact the greatest contribution of CR to moral philosophy might lie in building the groundwork for a thoroughly dialectical and social critical transformation of virtue theory. Throughout the thesis I hope to provide a full extraction and defence of Bhaskar’s dialectical moral philosophy, an original and critical interpretation of the history of its development with an emphasis on notions from ancient Greek ethics, and draw the contours of a critical realist development of virtue theory.
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