On City Identity and Its Moral Dimensions

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The majority of people on Earth now live in cities, and estimates hold that 60 percent of the world’s cities have yet to be built. Now is the time for philosophers to develop a philosophy of the city to address the forthcoming issues that urbanization will bring. In this dissertation, I respond to this need for a philosophy of the city by developing a theory of city identity, developing some of the theory’s normative implications, illustrating the theory with a case study, and outlining the nature and future of philosophy of the city more generally. Indeed, this dissertation is only ... continued below

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vii, 115 pages

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Epting, Shane Ray December 2015.

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  • Epting, Shane Ray

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Description

The majority of people on Earth now live in cities, and estimates hold that 60 percent of the world’s cities have yet to be built. Now is the time for philosophers to develop a philosophy of the city to address the forthcoming issues that urbanization will bring. In this dissertation, I respond to this need for a philosophy of the city by developing a theory of city identity, developing some of the theory’s normative implications, illustrating the theory with a case study, and outlining the nature and future of philosophy of the city more generally. Indeed, this dissertation is only a part of my larger project of founding and institutionalizing this new field of both academic and socially-engaged philosophical activity. Throughout the history of the discipline, other areas such a personal identity have received numerous considerations, along with the concept of identity as an abstraction. For example, there is a bounty of research addressing problems pertaining to how objects and people retain an identity over time and claims about identity in general. While one could argue that cities are not any different than any other object, such an account fails to consider that a city’s dynamic nature makes it dissimilar to other things. To illustrate this point, I develop a position called dynamic composition as identity theory that provides a framework for understanding the identity of a city, exhibiting that views within analytic metaphysics are too narrow to apply to all cases. After establishing a concept of city identity, I use an applied mereology to develop a model of city identity that shows how the parts of a city fit together to form a complete city. This model introduces the normative dimension of my project by providing a way to identify how incongruence between a city’s parts can cause problems for residents’ wellbeing. To understand the moral dimensions of infrastructure, I argue that moral theory alone is ill prepared to adequately demonstrate its full range of effects. Yet, instead of developing another moral theory, we can supplement existing moral theories with the concepts of sustainability and resilience thinking to account for the elements that traditional moral systems neglect. I support this view with a detailed account of transportation infrastructure. Namely, I show that current frameworks for assessing transportation infrastructure are inadequate, and employ the method of complex moral assessment developed earlier to make such assessments. Lastly, I show how the research in this dissertation counts as intra-disciplinary research, a new kind of method for philosophical research.

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vii, 115 pages

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UNT Theses and Dissertations

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  • December 2015

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  • March 20, 2016, 10:34 a.m.

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  • May 30, 2017, 1:14 p.m.

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Epting, Shane Ray. On City Identity and Its Moral Dimensions, dissertation, December 2015; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc822798/: accessed May 24, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .