Revitalization or Degeneration of Radical Consequentialism? On Processual Ontology, Vitalism and Ethics

Dr. Seppo Poutanen
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Several philosophers and theorists have made good use of processualist and vitalist ideas of e.g. Bergson and Whitehead in recent years. Basically, the neoprocessualists and neovitalists argue against essentialism, substance-and-attribute ontology, reductionism, mechanistic explanations and hierarchical dualisms. They state that all reality is made ’equal’ by its deep relationality and interconnectedness, i.e. there are no relations between entitities in space and time, but only endless process and becoming of relations with space/time as one mutable dimension. Considered not only open and flexible, reality is also claimed to be value- and emotion-laden through and through.

Neoprocessualism and neovitalism are usually included in so-called posthumanism, and this seems plausible from the standpoint of conventional analytic ethics, because ’humanism’ still importantly affects the last-mentioned. For example, distinctive value of human individuals, relative durability of identities, and autonomy of persons are humanistic ideas in the relevant sense.

Over twenty years ago, Derek Parfit published his book Reasons and Persons, which is rooted in classic ethics but defends radically consequentialist moral theory by undermining beliefs in durability and separability of persons. My paper compares Parfit’s theory with neoprocessualism and neovitalism.

Keywords: Radical Consequentialism, Neoprocessualism, Neovitalism
Stream: Philosophy, Ethics, Consciousness
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Revitalised Whiteheadian Process Philosophy, the Difficulty in Making Some Moral and Political Difference in the World, and Parfit's Imaginary Examples, The

Dr. Seppo Poutanen

Researcher, Department of Sociology, University of Turku
Turku, Finland

I got my basic academic education in moral philosophy and co-authored a textbook of metaethics in Finnish many years ago. The current research interests of mine include ethics, social epistemology, social theory and sociology of health and illness. Recently I have analysed epistemological and ontological dialogues between critical realists and poststructuralist feminists in my ongoing research project called ”Feminist social research, sociology and social epistemology: how to develop shared theoretical and discursive space?”

Ref: H06P0374