School of Historical and Philosophical Studies - Theses

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    The concept of responsibility
    White, Denis ( 1969)
    All of the questions that are raised in this study about the nature and the conditions. of moral responsibility have been considered before. However, they have not often been considered together. They are considered together here, and an attempt is made to draw out some of the relations between them. This makes possible a treatment of moral responsibility that is to a. degree systematic; and it makes it possible for some of the central issues about moral responsibility to be seen in a somewhat fresh light. I wish to express my gratitude to that Australian Government for providing a Commonwealth Postgraduate Award which enabled me to undertake this enquiry. I also wish to thank the many people, and especially the members of the Department of philosophy at the University of Melbourne, who have been generous with their time and their advice. Above all, my thanks go to. Dr. Mary McCloskey, who has subjected all my work to the most searching scrutiny, and whose comments and criticisms have been invaluable.
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    The political philosophy of Edmund Burke
    White, D. M ( 1963)
    Burke once wrote, of himself, "I believe, it is on the virtue of consistency that he would value himself the most. Strip him of this, and you leave him naked indeed." Burke's remarks about politics are indeed very closely related, and the relations determine the order in which they are to be treated. Burke thought that Nature had two fundamental features, which were shared by society, and which were therefore basic assumptions of politics, so his doctrine of Nature is considered first. The idea that human affairs are superintended by a benevolent Providence clearly has implications both for evaluating the nature of human arrangements and for the legitimacy of activities which would change those arrangements, and therefore Burke's doctrine of Providence is considered next. The nature of society, the basic concern of politics, is then examined in more detail. The relevance of reason to politics is the central question in Burke's political philosophy; he thought that its role was basically determined by those fundamental features of society and of Nature which have already been mentioned. Burke thought that the importance of establishments was mainly derived from the limitations of reason, and that because of these limitations, changes should be made by modifying establishments. His political goals can only be seen in their proper perspective when the scope of political activity has been made clear, and so they are not considered until the later part of the essay. The development of his remarks about politics reveals that they were based on an ethical theory, which is therefore the final consideration.
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    Free play : a study of one characteristic of our response to beauty through the aesthetics of Kant and Schiller
    Wetherell, R. F ( 1967)
    Our pleasure in beautiful things is both invigorating and relaxing. It is invigorating because we learn something new, that a certain form exists in nature, or may be imposed upon it by man. This is not learnt as a piece of information - it is an experience which moves us one step further in our search for order In the chaos of our experience. Intellectual pleasure arises from the discovery of order, too, either through dividing our experience into segments, or through putting them back together again. But the discovery of intellectual order may bring us no closer towards realising how physical and mental characteristics are united in the human personality. Now pleasure in beautiful things is neither purely intellectual nor purely physical. Beautiful thoughts are rare, and beautiful touches do not exist. I want to show how an experience of beauty is a model for, and a foretaste of, a more ultimate synthesis between the mind and the physical world. Pleasure in beautiful things is also relaxing, because it allows us to enjoy being ourselves. For the time being, we do not worry about achieving anything, or learning anything. Some experiences of beauty make great demands on our powers of comprehension, but somehow this is relaxing rather than exhausting. There is pleasure in the very exercise of these powers in appreciating beauty, arid, moreover, we cannot be forced into it. It is the pleasure of freedom, through which a fuller self-realisation is possible, because we are not tied to a particular task. This experience is best characterised as one of free play, as opposed to work and other serious occupations. Freedom here is not to be confused with the more solemn freedom of the moral sphere. Nevertheless, because the pleasure of free play, like moral feeling, may be communicated to others and even required of them, a study of free play is illuminating for our understanding of moral freedom. This essay aims at following these ideas through the two books which first gave the currency. They are Kant's Critique of Judgement and Schiller's letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man.
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    Morality and advantage
    Wertheim, Peter ( 1962)
    Until very recently, contemporary British philosophy had either ignored, or given scant attention to, a very old and deep rooted tradition in Western ethical writing which maintains that there is a link between virtue and advantage to the agent, and between vice and disadvantage to the agent. Or, to put it another way, that goodness and happiness are connected, as also are vice and unhappiness. Or, to put it differently again, that morality is connected with the development and perfection of human capacities, and with the satisfying of the needs and wants which are fundamental to human nature, while immorality involves the frustration of such capacities, wants and needs.
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    The men called 'Sophists'
    Wesson, A ( 1967)
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    Karl Barth and the concept of analogy
    Weeks, Ian Gerald ( 1967)
    A philosophical examination of the use of the concept of analogy in the theology of Karl Barth - with particular reference to some of the problems in explaining religious knowledge and language.
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    Acts and agency
    Van Hooft, Stan (1945-) ( 1973)
    The central concern of this thesis is to begin to explicate the concepts of action and agency. I commenced research on this thesis with an interest in the notion of Responsibility but found myself constantly pressed back to more fundamental questions about the nature of action itself. It seemed to me that a lot of the literature concerning itself with these questions was unsatisfying because of an unquestioned assumption that the same approach had proved useful in analysing such physical phenomena as causality could be used to analyse such mental phenomena as action. Accordingly, I commence my inquiry by establishing what I take to be the the approach to problems in the philosophy of mind. I argue moreover that this approach is unique to such problems. I then go on to apply this approach in elucidating the concept of action. I claim no completeness for the analysis I offer. I am conscious of leaving several important questions untouched. I do however, regard what I have done as a useful beginning to the solution of further problems in the philosophy of action. For example, I regard any theory of action inadequate to which cannot incorporate the notion of motivation on the one hand and the phenomenon of weakness of will on the other. Nevertheless, I have not taken opportunity in the present work to show how my theory can fulfil this demand. What I have briefly indicated is how my theory would apply to questions of Ethics. One feature of the theoretical framework within which my work has been done should be mentioned: this is my conviction of the unity of all creation. By this I mean only that I do not take the existence of mental phenomena to signal the existence of a realm of being different in kind from the physical or material realm. There are not two or more kinds of existents; rather the stuff of reality belongs to but one metaphysical category. What precisely this 'Materialism' will mean and what its implications are for the philosophy of mind will vary as between various approaches and problems and I take it that such a basic statement of materialism does not solve by flat any of the questions that current debates about physicalism or central-state materialism encompass. Rather it states the basic direction into which I would like to see those arguments go end the conclusions I would like to see them reach. If they should reach only conclusions incompatible with this basic position and if no error should be found In them, then I should be obliged to abandon my materialist position. I hold this conviction more as an article of faith than as the outcome of formal philosophical thought since I do not believe that a complete philosophical justification can be brought forward in support of it, although the idea has been given currency precisely by attempts at such a justification. Lastly, I wish to acknowledge the assistance that Dr. Graeme Marshall has given me. In the role of supervisor to my thesis work he has constantly shown me new directions for research and enlivened my thinking with ideas which are now inextricably bound up with my own.
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    The concept of advice
    Tucker, R. T ( 1964)
    In this thesis I hope to show how the concept of advice is related to other facets of moral language, and what considerations for ethical theory stem from a close analysis of the concept. The purpose of the present study is not so much to develop or defend one account of moral language above all others, but to show how careful and systematic examination of this concept can expose shortcomings in some accounts of moral language. Although the bulk of the thesis is critical in approach, certain positive conclusions will be urged on the basis of this examination.
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    Universals and predication
    Taylor, Barry ( 1970)