Date of Award
Union College Only
Bachelor of Arts
Dr. Krisanna Scheiter
Morality, ethics, perception, intelligence, nonmoral, tactile
KAHL, HENRY A Critical Examination of Susan Wolf’s Rejection of Common-Sense Moral Sainthood
ADVISER: Dr. Krisanna Scheiter
In Susan Wolf’s paper Moral Saints, she describes a figure whose actions strictly seek to improve welfare on individual and societal levels, namely a common-sense moral saint. If universally adopted, common-sense moral sainthood would presumably dramatically reduce the amount of suffering exhibited in our world, yet at the expense of developing the world’s nonmoral elements. Conversely, if all individuals were to pursue both moral and nonmoral ends, their dualistic approach would develop the world’s nonmoral elements, yet at the expense of sizable, permitted suffering. However, according to Wolf, individuals should not become common-sense moral saints, for common-sense moral sainthood is not an optimal personal ideal. By dismissing common-sense moral sainthood, Wolf may implicitly advocate that a world in which individuals pursue moral and nonmoral ends is valuable enough to justify the resulting suffering. Therefore, in my paper, I argue that to strengthen Wolf’s rejection of common-sense moral sainthood, she must justify why a world defined by a rich development of and appreciation for the nonmoral is superior to a world practically free of suffering. I support my thesis by first outlining Wolf’s account of common-sense moral sainthood. Second, I discern the pivotal implication of Wolf’s rejection of common-sense moral sainthood. Finally, I construct a thought experiment in which I demonstrate the observable differences between a world in which everyone pursues strictly moral ends and a world in which everyone pursues moral and nonmoral ends.
KAHL, HENRY Animal Intelligence in Aristotle’s De Anima
ADVISER: Dr. Krisanna Scheiter
In his treatise On the Soul (De Anima), Aristotle claims that human beings are the “most intelligent of animals” because they have the most precise sense of touch (DA 2.9, 421a23). But he does not explain what it is about the sense of touch that makes humans so intelligent. Some commentators claim that our precise sense of touch improves our ability to capture an object’s essence, which in turn makes us better reasoners. However, in my paper, I argue that having a precise sense of touch does not necessarily make humans more rational. Rather, I claim that, according to Aristotle, humans are the most intelligent animals because they can better discriminate between perceptible objects in comparison to other animals. This interpretation of intelligence digresses from commentator’s conventional understanding of intelligence as the ability to reason, i.e., grasp an object’s essence. I support my thesis by first exploring the relationship between delicate flesh and tactile perceptual ability. Second, I examine touch’s underlying involvement in sensory modalities other than touch. Third, I discern how enhanced tactile perception permits an improved perception of both common and co-incidental perceptible objects. Finally, I demonstrate how a precise sense of touch does not necessarily improve a human’s ability to capture an object’s essence.
Kahl, Henry, "Henry Kahl's Philosophy Thesis Portfolio" (2022). Honors Theses. 2565.