Appiah Reading Group
By S. Matthew Liao

experimentsinethics.jpg Following the successful Kamm Reading Group, Ethics Etc will shortly be holding another reading group on Professor Kwame Anthony Appiah’s book, Experiments in Ethics. Professor Appiah is Laurance S. Rockefeller University Professor of Philosophy at the Center for Human Values at Princeton University and the current President of the American Philosophical Association. The content of his book is as follows:

1. Introduction: The Waterless Moat
2. The Case against Character
3. The Case against Intuition
4. The Varieties of Moral Experience
5. The Ends of Ethics

John Broome thinks normative reasons are either explanations or parts of explanations of why you ought to F. Stephen Kearns and I think normative reasons are evidence that you ought to F (and we propose this as a unified analysis that applies across both reasons for action and reasons for belief). Many philosophers working on reasons would reject both of these views, often because they think the concept of a reason is not susceptible to deep analysis. In our most recent paper on this topic, Stephen and I compare our own view with Broome’s, and we do so in a way that should help with more general efforts to assess Broome’s view. This paper, “Reasons: Explanations or Evidence?” can be downloaded here.

Topics and Trends in Ethics?
By S. Matthew Liao

So what are the hot topics/issues in ethics at present? Off the top of my head, in metaethics: John Broome’s account of reason and rationality? moral fictionalism?; in normative ethics: Kamm’s ethics? the role of intuitions in moral theory?; in applied ethics: enhancement/disability? ethics of war and terror? neuroethics? What else?

Please feel free to be as specific as possible and feel free to link to online papers, books, and blogs. This could be a good resource for graduate students in search of thesis topics, and/or for people who like to stay on top of things. Do chime in. :)

ISUS X: Call for Papers
By S. Matthew Liao

The Tenth Conference of the International Society for Utilitarian Studies
11-14 September 2008
U.C. Berkeley – Berkeley, California, U.S.A.

ISUS X will be held on 11-14 September 2008, at the University of California, Berkeley (Berkeley, California, U.S.A.). The meeting is co-hosted by the U.C. Berkeley School of Law and its Kadish Center for Morality, Law and Public Affairs.

Geoffrey Ferrari from Oxford University gave a talk entitled “Rightmaking and Supervenience” this past Monday at the Oxford Moral Philosophy Seminar. An abstract of his talk is as follows:

John Mackie asked what in the world the word “because” signifies in statements such as “What you did was wrong because it was deliberately cruel.” In this paper I develop the idea of a deontic “making” relation as an answer to Mackie. I begin with a brief discussion of some formal and metaphysical questions, but the chief concern of my paper is to examine the prospects of analysing the deontic making relation in terms of (single domain) supervenience. I argue that even in its best form, a supervenience analysis is neither necessary nor sufficient for ethical making.

While the topic of this post is not specific to ethics, I do hope I may be forgiven for making a brief announcement about a new essay of advice now available online that may be of use to graduate students in ethics and other subjects.

Over the years, I have offered what is now an annual ‘speech’ on publishing advice aimed at graduate students and junior academics. I recorded much of my early talks in a paper, first posted on the Political Studies Association’s postgraduate website, and later on the Social Science Research Network expecting little to follow beyond, hopefully, helping a few understand publishing better. The response was extraordinary. The essay fast became the most downloaded document on the PSA postgraduate site and the paper has now been downloaded 2,119 times since December 2005. This original essay (‘The Postgraduate’s Guide to Getting Published’) can be downloaded here.

Readers of Ethics Etc, especially those living near London, might be interested in the following, which is free and open to the public, though registration is required:

A British Academy workshop convened by David Archard, University of Lancaster, Angus Dawson, University of Keele, Susan Mendus, FBA, University of York and Suzanne Uniacke, University of Hull

9.30 – 17.30, Saturday 8 March 2008
The British Academy, 10 Carlton House Terrace,
London, SW1Y 5AH

There will be a drinks reception sponsored by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the Journal of Applied Philosophy

Realism and Semantics
By Guy Kahane

J. L. Mackie did a great service to metaethics by distinguishing, as previous philosophers hadn’t, between semantics and metaphysics.* He pointed out that it’s one thing to show that our normative concepts refer to objective properties, quite another to show that anything out there actually corresponds to these concepts. Defending normative realism therefore turns out to be harder than previously thought: winning the argument about the semantics only takes you halfway.

By Andrew Reisner

There’s a new and interesting looking ethics conference being held in beautiful Colorado. Information below:

Please post widely.


First Annual

Rocky Mountain Ethics Congress

University of Colorado, Boulder
August 8-10, 2008
Boulder, Colorado

an international conference geared to offer the highest quality, highest altitude discussion of ethics, broadly conceived

Call For Papers

Professor Jason Stanley (Rutgers University) has recently won the American Philosophical Association Book Prize for his book, Knowledge and Practical Interests. In this book, Stanely also tests and develops his theories and principles by means of intuitive judgments about cases. Here is a case from the book:

[Bank Case 1:] Hannah and her wife Sarah are driving home on a Friday afternoon. They plan to stop at the bank on the way home to deposit their paychecks. Since they have an impending bill coming due, and very little in their account, it is very important that they deposit their paychecks by Saturday. But neither Hannah nor Sarah is aware of the impending bill, nor of the paucity of available funds. Looking at the lines [i.e., at the long queue at the bank], Hannah says to Sarah, ‘I know the bank will be open tomorrow, since I was there just two weeks ago on Saturday morning. So we can deposit our paychecks tomorrow morning.’ (p. 5)

keep looking »
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