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From Authenticity to Accountability: Re-Imagining Charles Taylor's Best Account Principle


From Authenticity to Accountability: Re-Imagining Charles Taylor's Best Account Principle

Renahan, Andrew (2013) From Authenticity to Accountability: Re-Imagining Charles Taylor's Best Account Principle. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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From Authenticity to Accountability:
Re-Imagining Charles Taylor’s Best Account Principle

Andrew Renahan, Ph.D.
Concordia University, 2013
This dissertation explores the possibility of re-imagining aspects of the moral theory advanced by Charles Taylor. The framework of my study is moral discourse as it is, and has been, expressed in what is historically and culturally understood as western philosophy.
What might it mean to live a good life? It is upon this question that the crux of my dissertation revolves. In his tome Sources of the Self, Charles Taylor eloquently drew the distinction between a utilitarian concept of what it is right to do, and a more substantive consideration of what it is good to be. My own work has been considerably influenced by this short dialectic. Despite my sympathy with some of Taylor’s arguments, my dissertation involves a considerable critique of his conclusions vis-à-vis authenticity and dignity. A prime focus of my analysis deals with what I contend is Taylor’s unnecessarily limited descriptions of languages and embodiment.
My aim is to engage in a re-imagining of Taylor’s concept of the “best account principle”. I argue that in Taylor’s work, the “best account” evinces a genre of clairvoyance on the part of a self-reading moral agent. I critique Taylor’s portrayal of agents transitioning toward increasingly lucid expressions of their vision of the good. The basis of my critique is focused upon what I contend to be the narcissistic self-concern underlying Taylor’s concept of moral agency. In re-imagining the “best account principle”, I expand upon the description of embodiment to include a consideration of gender, and an examination of implied “normativity”. To this thickened portrait of embodiment I apply insights from the work of Emmanuel Levinas regarding the “I” and the “other(s)”. The juxtaposition of Taylor’s theory with that of Levinas’ will help us to transform the “best account”, from an expression of authenticity, to one of accountability.
I employ aspects of Charles Taylor’s theory in a fashion which I do not believe would beget his blessing. Mine is not the story of the making of the self. It is, rather, an indictment of the self on the grounds of accountability.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Religions and Cultures
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Renahan, Andrew
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Date:July 2013
Thesis Supervisor(s):Oppenheim, Michael and Lalonde, Marc
ID Code:977714
Deposited On:13 Jan 2014 16:15
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:45
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