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    Moral agency analysed as self-enactment in social roles: a productive recast of Dewey’s pragmatist analysis

    Simons, John Patrick (2021) Moral agency analysed as self-enactment in social roles: a productive recast of Dewey’s pragmatist analysis. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    The analysis of moral agency proposed by John Dewey, one of the founders of American pragmatism, can be augmented and made more widely applicable when recast as one that understands moral agency as the enactment of self in the choice and performance of social roles. The recast account of the analysis makes explicit use of the sociology developed by his fellow founder pragmatist, George Herbert Mead, which is largely presupposed by Dewey. Mead’s sociology explains the process that transforms a helpless organism into a person or self. The mind is colonized by the culture to which it is exposed and becomes imprinted with the community’s shared expectations of conduct in role relationships. The organism is thereby endowed with a consciousness of its own selfhood, and the capacity to realize it in the choice and performance of social roles. It becomes enabled to behave predictably and intelligibly when interacting with occupants of counterpart roles. The relevance of Mead to Dewey’s analysis is usually not mentioned in philosophers’ commentaries on his work. Similarly, few sociologists and psychologists who study moral conduct and draw on Mead’s ideas refer to Dewey. Yet, as this thesis demonstrates, a treatment of Dewey’s analysis of moral agency that makes more use of Mead’s, and William James’s, ideas on the concepts of role and self can reveal fruitful and hitherto unrecognized connections between Dewey’s analysis and contributions by others to the analysis of role morality and to factors that affect it. The advantages become especially clear when his analysis is used to assess moral judgements or the foundations of alternative ways of assessing them. Arguably the thesis also strengthens the claim of Dewey’s pragmatist moral theory to offer compelling advantages over the traditional alternatives (principally deontological, consequentialist, and virtue-theoretic) on which he drew.


    Item Type: Thesis
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 25 Nov 2021 15:33
    Last Modified: 17 Feb 2023 01:10


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