The truth about value and the value of truth

Smit, Johannes Petrus (2003-12)

Thesis (PhD)--University of Stellenbosch, 2003.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: In this thesis an attempt is made to sketch the outlines of a cognitive theory of ethics, i.e. a theory in which ethical statements are a subset of descriptive statements. It is argued that the good is a quale, and that this quale roughly corresponds to what is often referred to as "pleasure". If this conceptualisation of the good is correct, then the resulting ethical theory is a cognitive, egoist version of ethical hedonism. The thesis proceeds by relating this conceptualisation of the good to economic phenomena. An investigation is then made of the conditions under which the following of a boundedly rational rule is preferable to calculating which one of the possible options available to the actor to follow. It is argued that one such rule is that "truth" should serve as a norm of inquiry. Next the issue of "altruism" is considered. It is argued that our intuitions regarding what egoist action should be are radically untrustworthy. Considerations from evolutionary biology and game theory make it clear that an egoist actor might well be best advised to perform a number of actions that would normally be termed altruistic. The next topic concerns the relation between fact and value. Arguments that claim to undermine the distinction between fact and value are argued to be fallacious. It is also argued that the correct view of the relation between fact and value can help to clarify some of the problems surrounding the conceptualisation of "objectivity". The thesis ends by considering the gains that arise from adopting the position argued for.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: In hierdie tesis word 'n poging aangewend om 'n kognitiwe teorie van etiek, m.a.w 'n teorie waarbinne etiese stellings 'n subspesie van deskriptiewe stellings is, daar te stel. Daar word geargumenteer dar "die goeie" 'n quale is, en dat hierdie quale rofweg dieselfde objek is as wat dikwels na verwys word as plesier. Indien hierdie siening van "die goeie" korrek is, dan impliseer dit die moontlikheid van 'n kognitiewe, egoïstiese weergawe van etiese hedonisme. Die tesis poog eerstens om die verhouding tussen hierdie siening van "die goeie" en ekonomise fenomene te verduidelik. Daarna word ondersoek ingestel na die kondisies waaronder die volg van 'n begrensde rasionele reël 'n beter opsie vir 'n akteur is as om an al die moontlike opsies te kyk en die beste te kies. Daar word geargumenteer dat die idee dat die "waarheid" die doel van ondersoek moet wees een so 'n reël is. Volgende word daar gekyk na die kwessie van altruïsme. Daar word geargumenteer dat ons intuïsies insake die aard van egoïstiese optrede radikaalonbetroubaar is. Sekere kwessies in evolusionêre biologie en spelteorie laat dit blyk dat 'n egoïstiese akteur waarskynlik verskeie oënskynlik "altruïstiese" aksies behoort uit te voer. Die volgende kwessie wat bespreek word is die verhouding tussen feite en waardes. Daar word geargumenteer dat pogings om hierdie onderskeid te ondermyn nie suksesvol is nie. Daar word verder geargumenteer dat die korrekte siening insake hierdie verhouding sekere probleme insake die verstaan van "obkjektiwiteit" kan ophelder. Die tesis eindig deur die voordele wat uit spruit uit die aanvaarding van die posisie wat hier voor geargumenteer word.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/53692
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