Talk 1 Why answers to the
question "Why should people be moral?" are not answers to the
question "Why should I be moral?" by James Hulgan
Consider the following argument:
1) People should be moral
2) I am a person
3) Therefore, I should be moral
It would seem, given the logical rules of universal
instantiation and modus ponens, that (3) would
follow validly from (1) and (2).
Convincing an egoist that all people should behave morally, in
conjunction with that egoist recognizing that she is a person, would prima
facie suffice to convince the egoist of adopting the moral point of
view. However, as many authors
have pointed out, this is hardly the case, but few seem to be able to spell
out exactly why I intend to approach and evaluate different interpretations
of the question, "Why should I be moral?" as opposed to "Why
should people be moral?"
Regardless of what sense of
"should" is being used when the egoist asks, "Why should I
be moral?" providing an answer to the question "Why should people
be moral?" in addition to the assertion, "you are a person"
will not and (logically) ought not suffice as an
answer. Answers to the two
questions differ because contexts which employ the predicate or intensions
of the form "n should p" are referentially
opaque—contexts in which co-referring terms, may not be substituted.
I argue that the opacity holds for practically every sense of the word
"should" or "ought"—including
the "should" of reason.
Talk 2 Social Epistemology and the Ethics of Belief by Zachary Silver
In this paper I dispute the
claim that social epistemology requires the rejection of epistemological
individualism, and argue that this is a good thing in that motivation for
such a rejection is entirely lacking.
The social epistemology of Lynn Hankinson Nelson, along
with the case she makes against epistemological individualism, are
evaluated. According to Nelson,
communities, rather than individuals, ought to be taken as the primary
epistemic agents; individuals, according to Nelson, can only be said to
have knowledge in a derivative sense.
Two of Nelson’s arguments in favor of this rejection of
epistemological individualism are considered, and ultimately found to be
wanting. I then show how a
conception of social epistemology that recognizes individuals as the
primary epistemic agents can be extracted from the ethics of belief of W.C.
Talk 3 The Presumption Against Killing and
the Problem of the Temporary Dip
by Russell DiSilvestro
Is there a strong
moral presumption against killing you when you do not have the immediate
capacity to think? One approach
for arguing the answer to this question is “yes” begins by
focusing on times of your life when you go through what can be called temporary
dips: for example, when you are temporarily unconscious due to being
asleep, anesthetized, or comatose.
This paper seeks to formulate the problem of the temporary dip more
precisely and to argue that three of the most plausible strategies for
replying to it are unsatisfactory.
Talk 4 Pornography and Paradigms by Matthew Rukgaber
In this essay I discuss the
pathways of influence between what Merleau-Ponty
calls the lived-body and pornography.
A brief discussion of paradigms in epistemology is connected to
practical knowledge, habits of the body, perceptual schemata, and paradigms
of behavior. I argue, following Merleau-Ponty,
that other bodies act as living paradigms for us. This leads me to conclude that the
critical and educational vacuum surrounding pornography, sexuality, and
ethics and the glamorization and softening of pornography into mass media
have resulted in almost unlimited influence between pornography and male
heterosexuality. In conjunction
with feminist arguments concerning the violence and domination of women in
pornography, this leads to dire consequences. I then take the framework
that enables this analysis of the influence between pornography and the
lived-body and apply it to three standard attempts to sever these
connections of influence and, ultimately, responsibility. Those defensive maneuvers are 1) the
attempt to “read” pornography as non-degrading towards women,
2) the isolation of pornography from reality by labeling it “not
real”, and 3) the attempt to protect pornography as art. My basic conclusion is simply a call
to widespread critical thought and education in sexuality and ethics, for
the forces of violence, sexual inequality, and objectification can only be
resisted through seeing it for what it is and creating alternative
paradigms and habits.
Talk 5 A Critical Comment on Michael
Smith’s Internalism by Vladimir Pintro
In the third chapter of The
Moral Problem, Michael Smith argues, inter alia,
that motivational externalism is false. Externalists, Smith says, claim that
moral agents are motivated to do the right thing, where the clause
“to do the right thing” is read de dicto and not de re. To this,
Smith objects that “common sense” tells us that “good and
strong-willed people” are (of course) motivated to do the right
thing, but only if this is read de re
and not de dicto. In this essay, I should like to
argue that although Smith’s objection is well-taken, we should think
twice before accepting his internalism. The reason for this is that it seems
to commit us to an unacceptable conception of the moral agent. Let me warn you, however, that my
argument is less an attempt to refute internalism
as it is an effort to denounce the prevalence of that unacceptable view of
the moral agent in the literature.
Talk 6 The Wayward and The
Lazy by Robin Weiss
The Lockean social contract
relies on circularity: It makes the separate values of contract-making and
property ownership indissoluble, since neither has worth without the
other. The result is that
Americans must affirm both values simultaneously. On the one hand, this produces a
cognitive dissonance when values conflict. More importantly, it excludes those
who do not have both terms.
Unless one has, from the outset, both property and a contract to
protect it—unless one already possesses the values of the self-made
man and the values of a contractual citizen, one is excluded from the
Talk 7 The Transference of the Obligations to Pay
Reparations by Sam Williams
I have two main arguments in this paper. In the first, I will argue that Boxill’s use of Locke to argue for reparations
does not fulfill his conclusion that the U.
S. government owes reparations to
African Americans for slavery.
He argues, following Locke, that those who consent and participate
in a transgression that lead to unjust property relations owe reparations
in the form of property. He
claims that the majority of citizens during the era of slavery consented to
the institution of slavery. The
problem I have with this line of argument is that the fact that the
representatives voted for the institution does not mean that the citizens
actually consented to the institution.
The consent of the representative does not equate to the consent of
the citizen. Thus, Boxill can implicate the all of the citizens of
consenting to the institution of slavery.
second argument in this paper is my defense of why the U.
S. government owes reparations to
African Americans due to slavery. I argue first that the government now
owes reparations because it benefited then from the institution of
slavery. Part of this benefit
is actually owed to African Americans as reparations. The second point I will argue for in
this vein is that the government owes reparations because citizens of the
slave era participated in the institution of slavery by participating in
the economic system that thrived on the institution. Following Boxill,
I will assume that a just government is a government of its citizens. So, the government owed reparations
for the injustice because the citizens owed reparations. The property that should have been
given to African Americans by the government was passed on to subsequent
generations of citizens. This
property actually belongs to the subsequent generations of African
Americans as reparations. Thus,
the present U. S.
government owes reparations to the present generation of African Americans.