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The Retrieval of Ethics$
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Talbot Brewer

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199557882

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199557882.001.0001

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Contesting the World‐Making Prejudice

Contesting the World‐Making Prejudice

(p.12) 1 Contesting the World‐Making Prejudice
The Retrieval of Ethics

Talbot Brewer (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Contemporary philosophers have for the most part come to agree on a particular, historically distinctive conception of the nature and point of human action. On the ascendant view, all actions borrow their point, and their intelligibility as actions, from the states of affairs that they are calculated to bring about. This world‐making conception of agency is deeply flawed, and the path to a more adequate conception lies in the retrieval of certain key elements of an earlier tradition of thought about human activity that can be traced back to Plato and Aristotle. The aim of this chapter is to bring out the problems with the ascendant conception of agency, and to illuminate the conception that informs the tradition of thought that it has displaced, so as to set the stage for retrieving certain lost insights into the virtues and their place in the best human activities and lives.

Keywords:   agency, action, action theory, desire, rationality, propositional attitudes, belief‐desire explanations, Scanlon, Sumner, Aristotle

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