Dissertation Defense: Gordon Shannon
Candidate Name: Gordon Shannon
Advisor: Mark C. Murphy, Ph.D.
Title: Association Theory: An Aristotelian Defense of Claim-Rights
Abstract: This thesis addresses the following question: Can, and should, Aristotelian normative theory account for claim-rights? In response, I argue that yes, Aristotelian normative theory can account for claim-rights to a degree, and that yes, Aristotelian normative theory should account for claim-rights. I define two kinds of account of claim-rights that one might give: a thin account is one which explains and defends claim-rights merely as correlated with certain duties, while a thick account is one which explains and defends claim-rights as also standing in a directional relationship with these duties. I argue that Aristotelian normative theory can and should account for claim-rights in both of these senses insofar as they promote the achievement of the aggregative common goods of associations, where “association” is understood roughly as a collection of individuals engaged in common practice, under common norms, for the sake of attaining their common good. An Aristotelian account of an aggregative common good simpliciter explains and justifies claim-rights thinly conceived insofar as such rights define certain shares of the common good due to associational members, and thereby direct associational members to act with respect to these shares. This thin account of claim-rights is then expanded with an account of a deliberative practice of social discourse, which involves the normative power of specifying, generating, and legislating conceptions of the means to and content of the common good. Such social discourse is argued to be authoritative on the basis of the necessary task that it fulfills – arriving at shared conceptions of the common good and the means to it – and is subsequently argued to be capable of producing directional norms, and therefore directional claim-rights, within associations. Finally, I argue that Aristotelianism ought to accommodate claim-rights thickly conceived for the sake of certain empirical and normative benefits such rights yield for associations.
Thursday, December 7 at 10:00am to 12:00pm
Healy Hall, 427
37th and O St., N.W., Washington