Book of Abstracts
- Carla Bagnoli: "Normative fragility"
- Katharina Felka: "Slurs as asides"
- Nicholas Laskowski: "Conceiving supervenience violations in ethics"
- Jonas Olson: "Metaethics out of speech acts? Moral error theory and the possibility of speech"
- Gideon Rosen: "After supervenience"
- Mark Schroeder: "A common subject for ethics"
- Robbie Williams: "The theory of normativity and the theory of representation: induction and interpretation"
- Alex Worsnip: "Incoherence and immorality"
Carla Bagnoli: "Normative fragility"
Some perplexing cases of choice are perplexing because agents think and act under temporal constraints. To think rationally under temporal constraints seems to require us to form reasons by adapting to the circumstances of action. Reasons for action provide us with the stability that is required to engage in meaningful activities. Yet they may lose their grip on us if they are not time sensitive. It frequently happens that what seemed a good reason to p at time t1, it is not a good reason to do it at t2. Sometimes temporal shifts parallel shifts in the axiological or deontic status of action. A goal that was previously considered valuable at t1 does not have value at a later time time t2. What seemed right, or even morally required, at one time t1, at a later time t2 may seem plainly wrong. In this sense, reasons for action exhibit what we might call normative fragility. I will argue that Kantian constructivism offers resources to adequately characterize and address this problem, by shifting focus from finite to temporally structured rational agency.
Katharina Felka: "Slurs as asides"
In this talk I develop a variant of a conventional implicature view, which combines Bach's thesis that the derogative contribution of a slur is comparable to a side remark with Pott's analysis of side remarks. In doing so, I firstly point out the difficulties for (genuinely) semantic and pragmatic views about slurs. Secondly, I develop a conventional implicature view and show how this view can avoid the difficulties. Finally, I discuss the view against objections raised in the literature..
Nicholas Laskowski: "Conceiving supervenience violations in ethics"
An intriguing idea in ethics is that there are advantages that accrue to Reductive Realists when they package their view with Hybridism about normative language. But many of these advantages are arguably quite subtle. One of the primary aims of this paper is to show that a novel kind of Hybridism about normative concepts affords Reductive Realists with a more significant advantage: An explanation of why failures of normative-natural supervenience are inconceivable. Recently, however, the status of supervenience as a conceptual constraint in ethics has been called into serious question. One of the other primary aims of this paper is to show how proponents of this package of views are not forced into saying that such failures of supervenience are inconceivable. This kind of flexibility is highlighted as one of the more significant advantages of “Going Hybrid” as a Reductive Realist.
Jonas Olson: "Metaethics out of speech acts? Moral error theory and the possibility of speech"
Are there moral facts? According to moral nihilism, the answer is no. Some moral nihilists are moral error theorists, who think that moral judgements purport to refer to moral facts, but since there are no moral facts, moral judgements are uniformly false or untrue. Terence Cuneo has recently raised an original and potentially very serious objection to moral error theory (Cuneo 2014). According to Cuneo’s ‘normative theory of speech’, normative facts, some of which are moral facts, are crucially involved in explanations of how it is that we are able to perform illocutionary speech acts, such as asserting, promising, and commanding. Many versions of moral error theory reject not only moral facts, but also normative facts of the kind Cuneo takes to be among the prerequisites of our abilities to perform illocutionary speech acts. If Cuneo’s argument is successful, then, moral error theory has the unsettling implication that we do not speak, and possibly that we cannot speak. I shall argue, however, that the argument ultimately fails, chiefly because its core argument fails to establish that illocutionary speech acts are normative in the first place.
Gideon Rosen: "After supervenience"
Moral contingentists hold that pure normative principles are sometimes metaphysically contingent, and that strong supervenience therefore fails. The paper sketches a conjectural case for contingentism and then explores objections to the view, including a recent objection from Jamie Dreier that contingentism entails a bizarre and objectionable form of moral luck. The main focus is on the epistemological question whether contingentism leads to moral skepticism.
Mark Schroeder: "A common subject for ethics"
The goal of this paper is to introduce and motivate what I call the Common Subject Problem for ethics, and to distinguish it from other issues with which it has been confused. The Common Subject Problem is to find a single subject matter that could possibly be the subject of the kinds of moral disagreement that we actually observe. I suggest that the Common Subject Problem plays a key role in motivating contextualism, relativism, and expressivism in metaethics, that it is a real problem for at least some views, and that it has been wrongly confused with issues from the theory of content determination which sometimes fall under the heading of the ‘moral twin earth’ argument against reductive realism.
Robbie Williams: "The theory of normativity and the theory of representation: induction and interpretation"
I advocate a form of radical interpretation which says that the correct belief/desire interpretation of an agent is one that depicts them [so far as possible] as acting as they ought given the reasons they possess for acting, and believe as they ought given their evidence. In this talk I’ll outline some of the ways that issues in the theory of normativity interact with the results we get from this metaphysics of representation, using theses about inductive norms on belief as a case study.
Alex Worsnip: "Incoherence and immorality"
One of the most alluring aspirations of broadly Kantian ethics – emphasized especially in recent work in that tradition – is to show that being immoral, of necessity, involves being rationally incoherent. In this paper, I will allege that attempts to vindicate this aspiration invariably turn on a more general (but often tacit) philosophical mistake: that of (tacitly) assuming that whenever there’s a normative prohibition on holding two attitudes in combination (rather than on holding either of them individually), that suffices for showing that the two attitudes are jointly incoherent. I'll explain why this assumption is mistaken, and how it underwrites arguments that immorality necessarily involves incoherence. I'll also gesture at some other contexts in which the same tacit assumption has led to substantive philosophical errors.