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Against Moral Deference

Covaci, Adina Cristina (2019) Against Moral Deference. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Covaci_AC_PRHS_PhD_2019.pdf - Final eThesis - complete (pdf)
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Is there a problem if you form the belief that capital punishment is morally wrong by deferring to a reliable moral expert? While deferring to your professor about facts concerning physics seems fine, deferring about the morality of capital punishment triggers negative intuitions. In this thesis, I examine these intuitions and investigate whether there are any non-epistemic reasons to not defer about moral matters. I construct and defend a new variety of moral deference pessimism, the view that there is something problematic about forming and sustaining moral beliefs, or about acting, on the basis of moral testimony. My account proposes that recurrent moral deference, i.e. moral deference that happens repeatedly, is pro tanto bad insofar as, and to the extent that, it interferes with the exercise and development of our capacity for practical deliberation. This interference occurs as instances of practical deliberation are being replaced with deference. Thus, when we defer, we do not exercise and do not develop our capacity for practical deliberation. This is pro tanto bad because this capacity has instrumental and extrinsic final value. My investigation starts with moral deference, but my practical deliberation view is able to offer a more comprehensive account, which covers other kinds of deference that seem suspicious, such as prudential and aesthetic deference. As such, this project aims to provide a systematic account of the pro tanto non-epistemic badness of deference, that is in broad accordance with our intuitions, both in morality and beyond.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: moral deference; moral testimony; practical deliberation
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Philosophy, Religion and the History of Science
Depositing User: Adina Cristina Covaci
Date Deposited: 20 Feb 2020 16:45
Last Modified: 20 Feb 2020 16:45
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/25537

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