Professor David Wiggins, the Wykeham Professor of Logic, Emeritus, at Oxford University gave a fantastic talk yesterday at the Oxford Moral Philosophy Seminar on “The Solidarity at the Root of the Ethical.”

With his permission, a podcast of his talk can be found here:

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UPDATE: Here is a handout to go along with the talk.

One-Day Kamm Workshop in Oxford
By S. Matthew Liao

The Programme on the Ethics of the New Biosciences and the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, Faculty of Philosophy, Oxford University, are hosting a one-day workshop on themes from Professor Frances Kamm’s work.

“Nonconsequentialism, Moral Responsibility, and Permissible Harm: Themes from Frances Kamm”
Saturday 29 November, 2008 , 11am to 7:00pm
Lecture Room, 10 Merton Street, Faculty of Philosophy, Oxford University

Professor Kamm – the Littauer Professor of Philosophy and Public Policy as well as the Professor of Philosophy in the Faculty of Arts & Sciences at Harvard University, and this year’s Uehiro Lecturer – will attend, and presentations will be given by:

There is an upcoming workshop entitled “The Economy of the Soul: Rational Choice and Moral Decision-Making,” which is sponsored by the British Academy and the LSE Choice Group, and co-sponsored by the UCL Ethics of Risk Project, funded by the AHRC.

The location for registration, coffee and all talks is now: New Academic Building (NAB) Room 104, at the London School of Economics.

Organized by: Alex Voorhoeve, E-mail:, Tel (Harvard office): +1-617-4951927. Due to space limitations, this event is open only to registered participants. Please e-mail to register.

Draft Programme
Venue: New Academic Building (NAB) Room 104, LSE. Directions.

This looks like a fantastic conference especially for those who are interested in intuitions and thought experiments. The AHRC Project on ‘Intuitions and Methodology Project’ at the Arché Philosophical Research Centre is hosting a conference on Philosophical Methodology, 25-27 April, 2009, at the University of St. Andrews.

Invited keynote speakers:
David Chalmers (Australian National University)
Jonathan Schaffer (Australian National University, Arché)
Ernest Sosa (Rutgers University)
Tamar Szabó Gendler (Yale University)

The purpose of the conference is to explore questions about philosophical methodology. Potential topics include:

University of Leeds, 26-28 June

The Society for Applied Philosophy (UK) was founded in 1982 with the aim of promoting philosophical study and research that has a direct bearing on areas of practical concern. It arose from an increasing awareness that many topics of public debate are capable of being illuminated by the critical, analytic approach characteristic of philosophy, and by direct consideration of questions of value. These topics come from a number of different areas of social life – law, politics, economics, science, technology, medicine and education are among the most obvious. The purpose of the SAP is foster and promote philosophical work that is intended to make a constructive contribution to problems in these areas. It does so through events, conferences, and lecture programmes.

2009 Annual Conference ‘Ethics for the 21st Century’

Date: July 2-4, 2009
Location: University of Edinburgh – Department of Politics and IR, ESRC Genomics Policy and Research Forum
The last two decades have seen profound social and economic changes in all areas of our lives. To name but a few: borders have become both more open and more closed. We have witnessed unprecedented levels of technological development: from new medical technologies such as genetic engineering and cloning, to communication technologies such as the internet and new modes of warfare. Environmental degradation and climate change are now seen as pressing issues by most.

Many of you will be familiar with the Moral Sense Test, which has produced some valuable data on ordinary people’s intuitions about trolley cases and related dilemmas. Eric Schwitzgebel, a philosopher of mind (who does fascinating work on the unreliability of first person judgments) and Fiery Cushman, from Marc Hauser’s lab at Harvard, have now designed a version of the test especially for philosophers. They want to be able to compare the responses of people with graduate degrees in philosophy to those of the folk. I encourage everyone to take the test; it shouldn’t take more than fifteen minutes.

Psychological hedonism (PH) is the view that each person is motivated so as to maximise his or her pleasure and minimise his or her pain. Thus, according to psychological hedonism, acts which appear to be altruistic are in fact performed for self interested reasons, such as making the agent feel less guilty, or giving the agent a ‘warm glow’. It is important to note that PH is a theory about motivation, rather than about ethics per se, but is of considerable relevance to ethical discussions.

Many people have attacked PH for not fitting the evidence: it seems that there are many situations when the benefits from the relief of guilt do not plausibly outweigh the actor’s sacrifice. For example, an atheist soldier choosing to die a painful death to protect his comrades. However, I wish to point out a different problem with PH which I have not heard before: that it has an incoherent conception of a person’s pleasure.

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