Matching Items (3)

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An Exploration of the Natural Law

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This thesis explores the idea of the Natural Law by looking at the ideas of three thinkers: Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas and John Locke. It answers the question of what the

This thesis explores the idea of the Natural Law by looking at the ideas of three thinkers: Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas and John Locke. It answers the question of what the Natural Law is, and further explains the derivative of this Natural Law, Natural Right. It further substantiates a relationship between the two. Finally, the thesis observes the prevalence these terms have in the American context, both in the Declaration of Independence as well as contemporary manifestations.

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  • 2021-05

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The Problem of Hope: Literary Tragedy in Mid-Twentieth Century Fiction

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"The Problem of Hope: Literary Tragedy in Mid-Twentieth Century American Fiction" examines Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, and Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar through the

"The Problem of Hope: Literary Tragedy in Mid-Twentieth Century American Fiction" examines Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, and Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar through the lens of tragedy. This thesis delves into how conflicts between internal and external identities can create a tragic individual, what kinds of success count toward achievement of the "American Dream," and whether the tragic "common man" is the socially normative one or the socially disenfranchised one. It raises a three-dimensional theoretical approach to American tragedy and, most importantly, considers the significance of tragic hope for American literature. This paper questions the construction of American identities across class, race, and gender according to social scripts. It seeks to uncover what forces these scripts exert on American cultural myths and rereads those myths through tragedy to explore Miller's idea of a noble common man. By moving from Miller to Ellison to Plath, this thesis traces the undercurrents of tragedy through some of the most identity-focused novels of mid-twentieth century American fiction to see how the overarching American narrative changed from 1940 to 1969 as the US underwent significant social changes domestically and image changes abroad. Ultimately, this paper concludes that tragedy in mid-twentieth century American fiction points toward a new idea of American success as a success that occurs beyond social scripts.

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  • 2016-05

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Finding character [electronic resource]: character and the challenge from situationism

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Recently, philosophers have charged that Aristotelian-based virtue theories are empirically inadequate because the conception of character in which they are grounded is largely unfounded by findings in psychology. These philosophers

Recently, philosophers have charged that Aristotelian-based virtue theories are empirically inadequate because the conception of character in which they are grounded is largely unfounded by findings in psychology. These philosophers argue in favor of situationism, the theory from social psychology that situational rather than dispositional differences among individuals are in large part responsible for human behavior. Situationists dispute the existence of traits that remain consistent across time and diverse situations and argue that features of situations can better explain and predict human behavior. After analyzing the psychological literature and historical cases put forth as evidence for situationism as well as the basic premises grounding arguments against situationism, I make some conclusions about the best responses to situationism. I agree with situationists that Aristotelian-based virtue and character are not quite empirically adequate but disagree that human behavior owes more to situational rather than dispositional determinants. Basing my theory on literature from social psychology, I argue instead that a concept of character grounded in social-cognitive theory is more psychologically realistic and can explain and predict human behavior and ground a character-based virtue theory. A social-cognitive conception of character would highlight the dynamic role between situations and individual psychological factors like beliefs, values, desires and the way that an individual perceives a situation. I sketch out a non-ideal theory of virtue based in a social-cognitive conception of character that is partially dependent on social networks for its maintenance and is fragmented, or contextualized to particular types of psychological situations. However, fragmented and socially dependent virtue is not an optimal type of virtue because it is vulnerable to situational features that place strong psychological pressures on agents to behave in various ways, including ways they would not have normally endorsed. I agree with Aristotelian virtue ethicists that argue that a type of practical wisdom can help to counter the often unwanted and dangerous influence of these strong situations but also maintain that some measure of moral luck is inevitably involved, even in the development of practical wisdom.

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  • 2012