Date of Award

August 2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Stan Husi

Committee Members

Joshua Spencer, William Bristow


Genealogies have traditionally been seen as debunking enterprises. They are historical narratives that discredit our practices, concepts, and values by tracing them to their problematic origins. But not all genealogies debunk. Philosophers such as Bernard Williams, E. J. Craig, and Phillip Pettit also use genealogy to “vindicate" i.e. to explain our practices in a way that supports them. These vindicators not only take genealogy to be critical to their explanation but also take genealogy to give their approach a distinctive advantage. Against such an over-optimistic assessment, I argue genealogy neither plays a unique explanatory role nor a particularly fruitful one. Worse yet, genealogies may even obscure the underlying explanatory structure of their projects.

Available for download on Monday, August 25, 2025

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