Metaethics Etc. Conference
By S. Matthew Liao

The Research Group on Moral Psychology, Moral Motivation, and Moral Realism at the Institute for Advanced Studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem is holding a conference on metaethics.

Conference: Metaethics Etc.
Date: June 18-20
Organizer: David Enoch
Joseph Raz: The Guise of the Good
Mark van Roojen: Moral Rationalism and Rational Amoralism
Mark Schroeder: Expressivist Truth
Nadeem Hussain: Normativity and the Causal Order
Gideon Rosen: Some Basic Questions in the Theory of Responsibility
Sigrún Svavarsdóttir: The Virtue of Practical Rationality
Ralph Wedgwood: The ‘Right’ and the ‘Good’ Revisited
David Enoch: Giving Someone a Reason to Φ
Russ Shafer-Landau: A Defense of Categorical Reasons
Hagit Benbaji: What is the Achilles’ heel of The Value-Based View of Reasons?

5th Annual Metaethics Workshop
By S. Matthew Liao

The program for the 5th Annual Metaethics Workshop organized by Professor Russ Shafer-Landau has been finalized. The workshop will be held in Madison, WI on Sept 12-14, 2008. Registration is free and all are welcome. If you would like to attend, please email Professor Shafer-Landau (shaferlandau at and let him know.

5th Annual Metaethics Workshop
Madison, Wisconsin September 12-14, 2008
All Sessions in 313 Pyle Center (702 Langdon Street)

One of the dividing lines in writings in theoretical ethics today is between those who think that practical reasons are provided by universal, and therefore, impersonal values (the value-based approach, as I shall call it), and those who find reasons, or at least moral reasons, personal or inter-personal in ways which are incompatible with the thought that they are all provided by values. I think of recent criticism by Kamm (Intricate Ethics) and Darwall (Second-Personal Reasons) of my accounts of rights and of authority as belonging with this critique of aspects of the value-based approach, which I pursue. In Sections 3 to 5 of a new paper, still in an early draft, on ‘The Possibility of Partiality’ I attempt a reply to these criticisms. Those interested will find it on my website (, in the unpublished papers page.

Ben Saunders at Oxford University gave a talk yesterday at the Oxford Moral Philosophy Seminar on “Fairness, Democracy, and Lotteries.” Here is an abstract of his talk:

This paper challenges the common assumption that democracy requires majority rule. I assume that we can adopt a contractualist approach to uncover the demands of political equality and argue that contractors would not necessarily accept majority rule to make decisions in their society. I first reject broadly consequentialist arguments, arguing that firstly no procedure guarantees ideally best outcomes, secondly that in cases of pluralism there is no need to suppose there is a uniquely best outcome, and thirdly that we need to be fair between different individuals. I develop this need for fairness into a case for weighted lotteries, drawing on the Taurek-Scanlon ‘saving the greater number’ debate. This leads to my conclusion that democratic ideals can be realized by selecting a random vote to determine the outcomes of decisions.

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