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Deciding Correctly, Even When the Evaluative Standard is Unknown.

posted Oct 14, 2009, 11:11 PM by shalomation   [ updated Jan 13, 2016, 11:10 PM ]

Deciding Correctly, Even When the Evaluative Standard is Unknown. (My MA Thesis)

Many, if not all of us, try to make correct practical decisions in life. Sometimes we attempt this even when we are not able to explicitly specify the authoritative standard for the evaluation of the possible options-of choice. And even when we can define the evaluative standard that we have in mind, deliberation may lead us to question this standard, or adopt a different one. In an extreme case, deliberation may bring a person to question, or even lose, all of his adopted evaluative standards (goals, values, ideology), at least on the conscious level and for the moment.

   This paper characterizes a type of deliberation that may lead to the above extreme result, called "reflective deliberation". Reflective deliberation is aimed at deciding according to the standard by which it would be correct to evaluate. What can determine the most fundamental evaluative standards by which it would be correct to evaluate? Perhaps some kind of direct intuitive normative knowledge can help. But what if the person has no such intuitive normative knowledge?

   The main problem that is discussed in the paper is: how can a correct practical decision be reached in reflective deliberation when the person doesn't have any intuitive normative knowledge that may help. A possible solution is offered, according to which the correct decision in such cases would be to follow a particular second-order strategy. The uniqueness of this solution is its independence from any particular (alleged) intuitive normative knowledge, other than what is included in the concept of a correct decision as a goal towards which reflective deliberation is directed. In addition, two alternative possible solutions are discussed in the paper. One is to perform an authentic existentialist choice of one's most fundamental values. Another possible solution, opposite in spirit, is to obtain psychological therapy that is aimed at exposing one's emotional complex.

A copy of my MA Thesis is attached below. I still like it, even though today I would have written it differently.

Jan 13, 2016, 11:08 PM