Prolegomena to the derivation of moral laws from psychological data
Bender, Richard N.
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The purpose of this dissertation is to examine several important philosophical problems connected with deriving moral laws from psychological data. Conclusions: 1. The abstraction and inadequacy of non-empirical approaches to real-life moral problems strongly implies an urgent necessity to investigate empirical approaches. 2. Psychological data may be utilized (as specified in 5 and 4, below) for the derivation of moral laws defined as principles of constant, verifiable, genetic relevance between choices and foreseeable consequences in values. 3. The important contributions of psychological data are: (a) broader knowledge of possibilities in mental and physical behavior of persons, which affords rational grounds for the ought-to-be; and (b) help in clarifying the nature of moral choices and their relations to values. 4. Thus (following 3), while actual derivation of moral laws involves evaluations which, as such, are not contained in psychological data, any valid axiological criteria must take account of the information such data afford concerning the experiences of persons. Hence psychological data contribute even to the criteria whereby they must be evaluated in the formulation of moral laws. 5. All mental phenomena must be accounted for within the activities of consciousness, though the so-called "unconscious" suggests new dimensions of consciousness. 6. Persons must be regarded as more or less integrated systems of socio-psycho-physical energy, characterized by constant development! as satisfactions for teleological and autonomous potentialities are sought. 7. While there is no distinct drive for moral rightness, it is a distinct teleological need, of both diversified and specific nature, achievable only through highest possible quality in satisfaction of other potentialities. Capacity for moral rightness can be conditioned, but not created, by the impact of society. 8. This investigation points to further studies, both philosophical and scientific in nature, as additional necessary steps toward derivation of specific laws. [TRUNCATED]
Thesis (Ph.D)--Boston University
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