My immediate aim in this lecture is to contribute something to the apt characterization of our representation and knowledge of the specifically human life form, as I will put it—and, to some extent, of things ‘human’ more generally. In particular I want to argue against an exaggerated empiricism about such cognition. Meditation on these themes might be pursued as having a kind of interest of its own, an epistemological and in the end metaphysical interest, but my own purpose in the matter is practical-philosophical. I want to employ my theses to make room for a certain range of doctrines in ethical theory and the theory of practical rationality—doctrines, namely, of natural normativity or natural goodness, as we may call them. I am not proposing to attempt a positive argument for any such ‘neo-Aristotelian’ position, but merely to defend such views against certain familiar lines of objection; and even here my aims will be limited, as will be seen.
Michael Thompson, Associate Professor of Philosophy, University of Pittsburgh.