Title'Along an imperfectly-lighted path'
NameSepielli, Andrew Christopher (author), Chang, Ruth (chair), Smith, Holly (internal member), Weatherson, Brian (internal member), Smith, Michael (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
DescriptionNobody's going to object to the advice "Do the right thing", but that doesn't mean everyone's always going to follow it. Sometimes this is because of our volitional limitations; we cannot always bring ourselves to make the sacrifices that right action requires. But sometimes this is because of our cognitive limitations; we cannot always be sure of what is right. Sometimes we can't be sure of what's right because we don't know the non-normative facts. But sometimes, even if we were to know all of the non-normative facts, we'd still not be sure about what's right, because we're uncertain about the normative reasons those facts give us. In this dissertation, I attempt to answer the question of what we're to do when we must act under fundamentally normative uncertainty.
It's tempting to think that, in such circumstances, we should do what we regard as most probably right. I argue that this view is mistaken, for it is insensitive to how degrees of actions' values compare across different normative hypotheses; if an action is probably right, but, if wrong, is terribly, terribly, wrong, it may be rational not to do that action. A better answer is that we should do the action with the highest expected value. I spend the first part of the dissertation providing arguments for and rebutting arguments against this view of action under normative uncertainty. I spend the next part of the dissertation explaining what degrees of value are, and showing how they can be compared across normative hypotheses. In the remaining parts of the dissertation, I consider two questions related to our primary question -- first, what is one required, or obligated, to do under normative uncertainty; and second, what is it rational for one to do when one is not only normatively uncertain in the way we've been discussing, but also uncertain about what it is rational to do under this sort of normative uncertainty.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references (p. 300-304)
Noteby Andrew Christopher Sepielli
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.