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Realism, Individualism, and Pluralism: The Ethics and Metaphysics of William James

Williams, Neil (2017) Realism, Individualism, and Pluralism: The Ethics and Metaphysics of William James. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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There is a growing interest, within contemporary ethical and political philosophy, in the theories of the classical American pragmatists. One of the reasons for this interest is the pragmatist’s tendency to ground normative notions such as “right”, “good” and “truth” within human practices, without thereby reducing such notions to those human practices. This thesis addresses a gap in this literature by articulating and defending an account of pragmatist ethics based in the work William James. James is often overlooked in contemporary scholarship precisely because he appears to offer an account in which our normative notions are reducible to what individuals and communities happen to believe. Contrary to the majority of both contemporary and historical interpretations of James, this thesis argues that James is in fact interested in presenting a form of ethical realism. By drawing extensively from his work on ethics and other areas, especially the metaphysics which occupied his later life, this thesis argues that James can be seen as providing an objectivist and realist account of ethics, whilst at the same time maintaining a commitment to the role that individuals play within inquiry, and to pluralism about value. As such, the Jamesian approach provides an interesting alternative and addition to other contemporary approaches to pragmatist ethics.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: William James, Pragmatism, Realism, Pluralism, Individualism, Ethics, Radical Empiricism
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield) > Philosophy (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.724400
Depositing User: Dr Neil Williams
Date Deposited: 02 Oct 2017 08:51
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2018 09:46
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/18251

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