Ways of life: Their nature and justification
Dueck, Jeffrey Forbes
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The project examines the nature and justification of choices concerning primary values, especially in the ethico-religious realm. I argue that the best way to understand the grounding of these choices is to root them in what some pragmatists have called "ways of life". The only way to establish a rational basis for these choices and reasons is to examine the foundation of the kind of choice being made. Since the decision involves both the propositions of one's belief system and the practices of one's life, it is imperative to reference the limiting factors of both human life in general as well as the chooser's life in particular for establishing a rational basis for values. While virtue theory, such as in Alasdair MacIntyre's account, has provided some important grounds for this type of response, I show that the pragmatists offer some important contributions of their own---contributions which have yet to be fully harnessed and clearly grouped together into a theory for ways of life. I also show how Kierkegaardian existentialism plays a contrasting and juxtaposing voice to the pragmatic approach that Dewey and James advocate and that Wittgenstein echoes. The final section of the project is devoted to questioning whether beliefs involving transcendence and exclusivity, such as the religious realm as discussed in Kierkegaard's work, can be dealt with in the same way as more general concerns of primarily ethical values. In addressing incompatible and exclusive ways of life, this work provides the historical-theoretical framework for engaging contemporary issues related to confrontations between incommensurable belief systems.