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Multitasking, Consequentialism and Practical Imagination

Strom, Gregory Brendan (2011) Multitasking, Consequentialism and Practical Imagination. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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I maintain that consequentialism is committed to the view that there must be a fundamental bifurcation between sorts of value possessed by inner and outer elements of any exercise of agency, and I argue that this view is false because its adherents are unable to avoid global skepticism about the possibility of agentive efficacy. This result obliges us to articulate a concept of a thing that an agent can do in which her efforts are robustly united, rather than merely conjoined, with the achievement of her goals. I find such a concept in the notion of a task as it figures in the concept of multitasking. A task is a kind of unity that subsumes everything an agent is doing in order to achieve a certain end. I argue that empiricism about practical options—the view according to which a practical option is just given to our practical cognition rather than being somehow the work of our practical cognitive faculties—cannot account for the role that this sort of unity plays in our ordinary concept of multitasking. I also present an argument against a "command picture" of ethics according to which the ethical value of an exercise of agency can be determined by considering exclusively what its agent has wrought thereby, rather than necessarily by also considering the reasons from which she wrought it. Finally, I offer an alternative to this picture in the form of a series of adaptations and adjustments of Kantian moral doctrine: first, that respect for the moral law is a determinable having many determinations—honesty, benevolence, etc.—and that only actions performed from one of the various motives that are respectful of the moral law possess moral worth; and second, that the moral law is also a determinable having many determinations and that an action can possess moral worth if the motive from which it is prompted is an attunement to the determination of this determinable that she bears. My most novel claim is that an agent's attunement to her determination of practical rationality is secured by the activity of a faculty of practical imagination.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Strom, Gregory
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairBrandom, Robertrbrandom@pitt.eduRBRANDOM
Committee MemberMcDowell, Johnjmcdowel@pitt.eduJMCDOWEL
Committee MemberSetiya, Kierankis23@pitt.eduKIS23
Committee MemberThompson,
Date: 30 September 2011
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 13 June 2011
Approval Date: 30 September 2011
Submission Date: 12 June 2011
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
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: deontology; ethics; Kantian ethics; metaethics; metaphysics of action; moral psychology; practical rationality; utilitarianism; virtue ethics
Other ID:, etd-06122011-174651
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:47
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:44


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