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Grounding Constitutivism

Lindeman, Kathryn (2014) Grounding Constitutivism. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The world is full of things that are better and worse, and we evaluate these things according to norms. However, the nature of norms and how they are related to the those better and worse things is not at all clear. Constitutive accounts of norms attempt to locate norms as a constituent of the nature of the very individuals they evaluate. I first argue against current constitutivist accounts because of their endorsement of what I call the Threshold Commitment, which holds that a necessary condition of being a member of an evaluative kind - a kind whose members can be evaluated qua their kind - is satisfying some minimum number or degree of the norms of that kind. I then develop a better account of the constitutive relationship between evaluative kinds and the norms that evaluate them. By understanding evaluative kinds as constituted by functions, constitutivists can easily explain norms as those standards whose satisfaction makes individual kind-members better at performing their function. I argue that understanding constitutive functions according to an etiological account of proper function avoids endorsing the Threshold Commitment and so makes one immune to the problems with current constitutivist accounts. Thus begins a kind of proof by cases for the position that the norms governing evaluative kinds can be grounded in the functional nature of those kinds. The last chapters answer worries raised by the use of etiological function in the constitutivist account. I consider a priori objections to the violence to our intuitions about when and how we can evaluate individuals according to norms in etiological function and empirical objections that etiological functions can be found to support norms contrary to our intuitive theoretical norms.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Lindeman, Kathrynkml45@pitt.eduKML45
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairSetiya, Kierankis23@pitt.eduKIS23
Committee MemberBrandom, Robertrbrandom@pitt.eduRBRANDOM
Committee MemberSchafer, Karlschaferk@pitt.eduSCHAFERK
Committee MemberFerrero,
Date: 29 May 2014
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 28 January 2014
Approval Date: 29 May 2014
Submission Date: 24 February 2014
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 130
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Philosophy
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Norms, Constitutivism, Metaethics, Function
Date Deposited: 29 May 2014 17:28
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:17


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