In this dissertation, I defend a particularist, developmental account of the demands of loyalty, particularly towards unchosen objects (e.g. familial loyalties, piety, and patriotism). After surveying the limited literature in the field, I begin by pursuing Bernard Williams' suggestion that the deepest loyalties in human life are not subject to justification on the basis of universalist moral theories. In general, I argue that modern ethical theory?both broadly consequentialist and broadly Kantian?cannot account for demands of special concern towards particular persons, groups, and traditions, because those theories are intrinsically insensitive to the intra-volitional values that inform such demands. In response to the inadequacies of the universalist views, I attempt to derive such loyalties from the intra-volitional structure of a mature human will. My argument describes the ground conditions of a morally mature will?conditions with which any tenable moral theory must be compatible. I hope to be describing some of the essential features of human moral psychology as they are actually valued, features no moral theory can ignore while remaining faithful to the content of the lived moral life. I make special use of Harry Frankfurt's account of volition, autonomy and commitment, especially his notion of volitional necessity?the idea that a moral agent is compelled to perform certain actions not as a result of the deliberations of practical reason, but because his caring for certain objects is itself partially constitutive of his will. However, I think this view is incomplete and so drawing on work by Jonathan Lear, I offer an account of the origins of moral responsibility in the course of personal moral development. I argue that moral responsibility can only be fully understood in light of how an agent achieves maturity as a reaction to and reflection of the public values of his social world. I ultimately hold that the structure of any humanly valuable will is characterized by the sort of volitional necessities that give rise to the deepest demands of love and loyalty. Accordingly, any adequate conception of the mature moral agent must make room for loyalties directed at unchosen objects as acts of self expression.
Richard Miller (chair), Scott MacDonald, Jennifer Whiting
loyalty; moral psychology; Harry Frankfurt
dissertation or thesis