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The Moral Value of Literature: Defending a Diamondian Realist Approach

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Title: The Moral Value of Literature: Defending a Diamondian Realist Approach
Author: Yolkowski, John
Department: Department of Philosophy
Program: Philosophy
Advisor: Hacker-Wright, John
Abstract: This work examines the relationship between moral philosophy and literature. I start by exploring a dialectic that exists between “prevalent view” theorists (i.e., D. D. Raphael and Onora O'Neill), who argue that the moral interest of literature lies in explicit deliberative arguments modeled in literary texts, and Diamondian realist theorists (i.e., Alice Crary, Cora Diamond and Iris Murdoch), who argue that the “prevalent view” is too narrow. Rather, the ways in which literature affects us emotionally can make ineliminable contributions to fully rational moral thought. In Chapter Two, I explore potential challenges to this position, drawn from the works of Simon Blackburn. He argues that there are epistemological concerns (it relies upon a faulty view of language), and moral concerns (specifically relativism) with Diamondian realism. I respond to these challenges in Chapter Three and conclude that Crary, Diamond, and Murdoch have given us a better picture of literature's moral value.
Date: 2011-08

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