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Ethical Adventures: Speculative Fiction's Distinctive Contribution to Moral Understanding

Eckersley, William Joseph; (2022) Ethical Adventures: Speculative Fiction's Distinctive Contribution to Moral Understanding. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis identifies a distinctive contribution to ethical understanding made by Speculative fictions. Plausibly, written fictions bear a connection to the ethical world. But how ought one to make sense of this connection, and of that world, if one is willing to entertain that possibility seriously? Accepting and modifying one promising strategy pursued in the literature, this thesis proposes adopting a version of Neo-Aristotelian ethical investigation, here dubbed ‘Ethical Adventuring’. To the Ethical Adventurer, written fictions function as guides in an experimental, ex-periential quest to achieve moral understanding. Which guides ought the Adven-turer to consult, then, and what form does their guidance take? Early on, the choice is made to consult Speculative fictions. Several accounts of how written fic-tions, more broadly, may make contributions to ethical understanding are then outlined and critiqued. The decisive criticism of these accounts is that none of them convincingly identifies a distinctive way in which written fictions, of any va-riety, make contributions to ethical understanding. In search of a solution, the dis-cussion turns to the experiences generated by reading fiction. Two new accounts are supplied. First, a way of enriching present descriptions of the phenomenology of fiction reading. Second, a way of accounting for a special kind of content en-countered most often in the experiences created by reading Speculative fiction. Ex-periences with this special kind of content, it is argued, attune readers to the limits of our human mode of being in a way that encounters with quotidian qualia can-not. It is concluded that Speculative written fictions make distinctive contributions to moral understanding, and so, to an Ethical Adventure, in virtue of engendering these experiences.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Ethical Adventures: Speculative Fiction's Distinctive Contribution to Moral Understanding
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10162235
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