May 16, 2018

Geesteswetenschappen: Wijsbegeerte: PF Colloquium
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Philosophy and Ethics Institute present


Meetings 2017-2018

2017: september, october, november, december; 2018: january, february, march, april, may, june

Ethics Institute, Utrecht
F & R, Philosophy, Utrecht

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External announcements

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Time is 15.30-17.00, unless indicated otherwise.
Location is Stijlkamer, Janskerkhof 13, room 0.06, unless indicated otherwise.
The dates are fixed, program is a draft!

If you want access to the files on this site, necessary for preparation of our meetings, please contact Liesbeth Feikema.
To log in, you need login-data, please contact Rob van Gerwen.

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De bijeenkomsten

september 2017

12 september
Marie Gobel, chapter from her Phd.
15.30-17.00 (Stijlkamer Janskerkhof (0.06), JKH 13)

»  MarieGobelMoralPoliticalDebate.pdf (341K)

26 september
Book workshop Joel Anderson, Autonomy Gaps.
NB extended time: 14.30-17.00 (Stijlkamer Janskerkhof (0.06), JKH 13)

»  AndersonAutonomyGaps20170921.pdf (430K)

oktober 2017

10 oktober
Florian Bekkers, The Transformative Dialogue as the core of an alternative moral theory.
15.30-17.00 (Stijlkamer Janskerkhof (0.06), JKH 13)

How can moral conflicts be resolved in a just and stable way? Is it possible to develop a moral theory in which existing rival theories can find their place? The idea of this paper is to build this alternative moral theory on the notion of a 'transformative dialogue'. This is a dialogue in which dialogue partners come to new identifications of who they are. The paper clarifies the concept of a transformative dialogue, presents existing (institutional) practices, distinguishes the features of a moral theory on its basis and sketches the justification programme that is to be fulfilled in the next step of the theses.

»  BekkersFlorian171001AmoraltheorybasedonTheTransformativeDialogue.pdf (300K)

24 oktober
Rutger Claassen and others: NWO Free Competition Project 'Private Property & Political Power' project
15.30-17.00 (Stijlkamer Janskerkhof (0.06), JKH 13)

»  MacPherson, A Political Theory of Property.pdf (1.2M)

november 2017

14 november
Deryck Beyleveld & Marcus Düwell, paper on The Fact of Reason.
15.30-17.00 (Stijlkamer Janskerkhof (0.06), JKH 13)

This text has two parts. Part One is introductory. Here we attempt to provide some background in the form of general comments about Kant's moral philosophy and some of the ways in which it has been interpreted. Part Two is an outline of our analysis of what Kant's argument for the moral law/categorical imperative is, which we present in full in a much longer paper we are writing at the moment and hope to publish.

To facilitate discussion in the Colloquium, in addition to the text below, it would be helpful to read/re-read Book I, Chapter I “On the Principles of Pure Practical Reason”, Parts 1-7, and 5:42-50, plus Chapter III 5:89-94 and 5:105-106 of Critique of Practical Reason (in English, Dutch or German). We are aware that this is a lot of material and you don't have much time but discussion will be easier if there is some familiarity with those chapters.

»  BeyleveldDuwellFactofReason.docx (69K)

28 november
Sem de Maagt: "How transcendental arguments can be used in applied ethics: an alternative to reflective equilibrium".
15.30-17.00 (Stijlkamer Janskerkhof (0.06), JKH 13)

Abstract: Although many people working in the more applied areas of ethics might be willing to admit that the method of reflective equilibrium is not a perfect method of moral justification, there is at the same time a widespread conviction that there simply is no practicable alternative. The aim of this paper is to show how one such an alternative, transcendental argumentation, could be put to work in applied areas of ethics. In this way, I hope to show that there is in fact an alternative, practicable method of moral justification in applied ethics.
»  SdMTranscendentalargumentsinappliedethicsnov2017.docx (90K)

december 2017

12 december
Sander Werkhoven: Virtue ethics
15.30-17.00 (Stijlkamer Janskerkhof (0.06), JKH 13)

Although the revival of virtue ethics has helped reintroduce the eudaimonic tradition into mainstream moral philosophy, it has by and large been a revival of Aristotelian ethics combined with a modern preoccupation with standards for the moral rightness of actions. This introduction to a collection of essays aims to identify several shortcomings of contemporary virtue ethics, and makes a case for exploring a new "cultivation of the self" strand within contemporary moral philosophy.
»  WerkhovenSelfCultivationIntroduction.pdf (625K)

januari 2018

9 januari
groep Annelien Bredenoord UMC: The goals of medicine
15.30-17.00 (Stijlkamer Janskerkhof (0.06), JKH 13)

»  Boorse, 2014: Final goals of medicine (186K)
»  Schramme: goals of medicine 2017 (95K)
»  Wouters, et al: Is It Our Duty To Hunt for Pathogenic Mutations? TMM (427K)

23 januari
Boekproject, Rob van Gerwen: Manifest: Veranderingen in ons wereldbeeld. (in Dutch)
15.30-17.00 (Stijlkamer Janskerkhof (0.06), JKH 13)

Introduction in English for the session of our colloquium about my (Dutch!) current book project, a manifest about changes in our worldview.
In this manifest, I argue that we (our global, western, culture) are in the process of killing the mind, menticide. I appreciate that this is a sweeping and extreme claim, and perhaps not even very clear one at that. However, I will not support it with a survey of adcademic, empirical research. Rather, I try to make sense of the claim and show the many facets of contemporary developments that all point in the relevant direction. The manifest is not merely a survey of analyses that can be found in the media, like Bas Heijne did in his booklet on "Het onbehagen", nor is it as broad as Harari's two books on our near future. I think I am digging deeper than Heijne did, and I try not to speculate as much as Harari does, but to develop a notion of the mind, and of perception, and of how we share our subjectivity amongst each other and how this befits our biological species. In a sense, though, my argument will be as broad and sweeping as Heijne and Harari's are. I hope to make clear, though, that the things I mention are indeed developing around us, and in us, in the smallest of details.
In my view, this development came along with what Dijksterhuis called the mechanisation of our world view. What, or where, is the mind? How can it be killed, why would we do it? Who is responsible? But first: what is a life without the mind---dementia? Imagine an elderly man in a care home, who, while sitting snoozing in an easy chair, is visited by a woman. He invites her in: "Welcome, would you like milk in your coffee, madame?", whereupon the woman says: "Dad!" The man no longer recognizes his own daughter. What did the man lose over the years? I do not mean this as a clinical issue---what interests me is the phenomenology of his consciousness.
Yes, the man lost a large amount of cognitive insights in the world that he inhabits. But no amount of knowledge, I think, would help him recognize his daughter in the right manner. Imagine a built-in chip telling him who the woman is, what her name is, that her mother was his own second wive, when she was born, which are the names of her partner, her children, what these children are up to, and so on. This might make the man conclude: "Aha, so you are my daughter Emma?" Would this satisfy her? Of course not. The insight would miss, what I view as a certain subjectivity. The father should remember scenes he lived through with his daughter: memories shared with her, shared not discursively, but subjectively. My clue here is: dementia characteristically has its most devastating effect in the dropping away of shared histories of subjectivity.
[One of the things I conclude from this in the chapter on subjective realism is that shared subjectivity forms the anchorage of personal identity. I mean this as a corrective, however small, of a favourite repsychologised view of personal identity, of Richard Wollheim (in The Thread of Life).]
Here is the connection with the mechnisation of our world view which characterises the rise of modern science in 18th century: modern science is objectivist. At the least this means that it has no room for subjectivity (Thomas Nagel). Given the critical importance of subjectivity for the lives that we lead, this is clearly a problem. But it is enlarged in the digital technologies that we currently develop and which more and more take over life's controls from our minds.

I discuss, in separate chapters:
- the mind (which I do not think is in the brain, but is extended in the world outside). [I defend a position more extreme than Chalmers and Clark in "The Extended Mind", which position merely leads to the view that a built-in chip should be thought of as being capable to extend or enhance one's mind; I think it does so in a trivial manner.]
- subjective realism: we live in a world filled with subjective properties; these properties are out there but depend for their reality on subjects. This subjectivity must not be viewed as idiosyncratic or solipsistic [Cartesian introspection is a mistake, as per Wittgenstein's views]. I explain varieties of subjectivity arguing that all are in some measure shared among people.
- thick and thin. This sharing is done in moral situations, i.e. in situation of thick perception. I develop the distinction between thick and thin as found in Clifford Geertz, Gilbert Ryle, and most notably Bernard Williams, and take this as a clue for my analysis of contemporary developments in our digital world: WhatsApp, FaceBook, Google, big data, internet expressivism generally, and so on, are all based in thin representation. If we want to bring an end to racism and sexism, we must "face the other", as James Baldwin suggests: we cannot change what we do not see. Seeing the other means looking at the other, thickly, with an interest in sharing the subjective. It will not suffice to observe the other, thinly, as we do in the media or on the internet. [I explain all these things calmly in my manifest, it takes much space to make my points; more than I have available in this short introduction].
- science. Am I attacking science? No. Science is great, but it has a crucial flaw: it chose to ignore the subjective even though subjectivity forms the core of the lives that we lead together.
- Internet. Am I defending subjective developments on the internet? No, hell no. The theory describing what happens on internet, I think, should be termed expressivism, a north-American invention, much like Hollywood is. We feel all should have the right to express themselves, and this is, indeed, all we seem to be doing on the internet: we take the liberty to tell everyone how we feel about things. Unfortunately, things do not stop short of expression. One persons expresses a certain anger, the next expresses a similar sort of anger, about something similar, a third one expresses their solidarity with one of the others, yet another person says, in a tweet, that if it is true what happened to the second person then the perpetrater should be hanged---just an expression of one's moral indignation, and so on. The net effect is an assembly of smoke, so big, that people start believing that all that has been lamented was true, and did really happen, which invites more expressions. Smoke becomes the fire, and people get fired because of it. We lose interest in establishing the thick events that ground the thin expressions. The problem with internet is that expression is read as representation. [This is how the distinctions I make in this manifest help us analyse our predicament.]
In a final chapter I discuss the powerlessness of ethical considerations that are ventilated in regard to details discussed here. I discuss the fallacies that govern the developments sketched and suggest the necessity of a moral critique such as the one developed in my book.
This short introduction is only to give you an impression of the argument developed in the manifest, not to paraphrase it. In this introduction, you only read a few of the points I develop.
But I thought you should know. The book is written in Dutch, the discussion, too, will be in Dutch. At least you know more or less what you miss if Dutch is not your language.

»  GerwenFastForwardVervreemding.pdf (184K)

februari 2018

13 februari
Jos Philips: wat
15.30-17.00 (Stijlkamer Janskerkhof (0.06), JKH 13)

»  180207 pf colloquium jos philips.pdf (617K)

27 februari
Michael Bennett: "An epistemic argument for an egalitarian public sphere"
15.30-17.00 (Stijlkamer Janskerkhof (0.06), JKH 13)

I argue for regulations to ensure that the distribution of political speech does not correlate with the distribution of wealth. The argument relies on the following premises. First, if political speech is unregulated, the rich predictably contribute a disproportionate share. Second, wealth tends to correlate with substantive political perspectives. Third, greater quantities of speech by the rich can "drown out" the speech of the poor, because of citizens' limited attention span for politics. Finally, the normative problem with all this is that it reduces the diversity of arguments and evidence citizens become familiar with, reducing the quality of their political knowledge. Although the clearest implication of the argument is in favour of strict contribution limits and/or public funding for formal political campaigns, it also has implications for more informal aspects of the public sphere.

»  BennettMoneyinPoliticsv5.4.docx (97K)

maart 2018

13 maart
David Velleman: Not Alive Yet
15.30-17.00 (Stijlkamer Janskerkhof (0.06), JKH 13)

»  VellemanNot_Alive_Yet.pdf (129K)

27 maart
New research projects (2)
15.30-17.00 (Stijlkamer Janskerkhof (0.06), JKH 13)

Presentation of Ingrid Robeyns and her ERC Consolidator Grant team: the 'Fair Limits' project.
»  RobeijnsIngridSummary_for_Colloquium.docx (49K)

april 2018

10 april
Julia Hermann: On evolution and moral progress
15.30-17.00 (Stijlkamer Janskerkhof (0.06), JKH 13)

"This is the first, incomplete draft of a paper that I will present at the conference "Evolution and Moral Epistemology" and submit for a special issue on the topic of the conference. I am interested in any kind of comments."
»  HermannMoralProgressInBeliefsAndPractices.docx (155K)

24 april
Matthias Kramm: Normative evaluation of cultural tradition
15.30-17.00 (Stijlkamer Janskerkhof (0.06), JKH 13)

»  KrammNormativeEvaluationOfCulturalTradition.pdf (434K)

mei 2018

8 mei
Nina van Heeswijk: Distributive Justice, Reciprocity and Global Economic Cooperation
(Stijlkamer Janskerkhof (0.06), JKH 13)

A Reciprocity-based Evaluation of International Economic Institutions

I explore the implications of adopting a reciprocity-based relational account of justice for the evaluation of international economic institutions. My aim is to (1) give an interpretation of the basic justificatory model that lies at the core of a reciprocity-based account of justice, and (2) explore the implications of adapting such an account for developing principles of distributive justice for the design of international economic institutions. I argue that if we accept reciprocity-based arguments that aim to show that no egalitarian distributive principles apply beyond state borders, we are thereby committed to the view that comparative distributive principles apply to international economic institutions.
»  HeeswijkDistributiveJusticeReciprocityandGlobalEconomicCooperation052018.pdf (193K)

22 mei
Tim Meijers: Methods in Philosophy part (2)
(Stijlkamer Janskerkhof (0.06), JKH 13)

»  MeijersCreatingChildreninanUnjustWorld.pdf (394K)

juni 2018

5 juni
Hanno Sauer: The argument from agreement
15.30-17.00 (Stijlkamer Janskerkhof (0.06), JKH 13)

»  SauerArgumentfromagreement.pdf (247K)

19 juni
workshop Chinese filosofie & hermeneutiek
15.30-17.00 (Stijlkamer Janskerkhof (0.06), JKH 13)