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Philosophy

Research seminars

Research seminars will take place on Wednesdays. 

The seminars will usually run from 15.15-17.00, with a break.

The seminars are not all in the same venue - please see below for details:

Please contact Paula Satne (paula.satne@manchester.ac.uk) if you have any queries.

2018-19: Semester one

26 September 2018: Dr Stephen Ingram (University of Manchester)

Venue: HBS 2.07

Title: Moral Intuitionism and the Cooperative A Priori

Abstract: The non-naturalist moral realist must explain how moral beliefs can be epistemically justified, for they take the truths that such beliefs concern to fall beyond the reach of empirical inquiry. Most non-naturalists adopt an ‘intuitionist’ picture on which justified moral beliefs are formed non-inferentially. This view can be developed in different ways, and the aim of this paper is to suggest a promising new direction for intuitionism. The motivation for going in a new direction arises from a question that (to my knowledge) intuitionists have yet to identify and address. I call this ‘the collaboration question,’ for it concerns issues that arise from the need to unite (a) the intuitionist claim that justified moral beliefs are a priori and non-inferential with (b) the fact that moral inquiry is a social activity that requires leaving the armchair to engage in empirical dialogue with others. I show how to develop intuitionism so as to resolves this tension. More specifically, I explain how a priori justified moral beliefs (and, in fact, a priori beliefs more generally) can be acquired through inclusive and cooperative dialogue. I show that this view – which I call ‘cooperative intuitionism’ – has further payoffs in illuminating how to handle at least three challenges facing intuitionism.

10 October 2018: Mr Andreas De Jong (University of Manchester)

Venue: ALB 2.016/17

Title: TBC

Abstract: TBC

17 October 2018: Dr Catharine Abell (University of Manchester)

Venue: ALB 2.016/17

Title: Fictional Entities

Abstract: Do fictional entities exist? I argue that they do. They are social objects. I draw on theories of social objects to identify their existence and constitution conditions, and to explain why accepting their existence does not violate considerations of ontological parsimony.

31 October 2018: Dr Samuel Lebens (University of Haifa)

Venue: ALB 2.016/17

Title: The Paradox of the Preface, Wittgenstein's Ladder, and Negative Theology

Abstract: A number of theologians are committed to God's being, in some important sense, beyond description. This position faces a number of important questions. In what 'important sense' is God said to be beyond description? Why think it to be true that he is beyond description? And how can one avoid the accusation that, in describing God as beyond description, one automatically violates the constraint, and describes him? This talk addresses these questions in conversation with the philosophical literature about the paradox of the preface, and in conversation with the esoteric conclusion of Ludwig Wittgenstein's Tractatus.

7 November 2018: Prof Stephen Gardiner (University of Washington)

Venue: ALB 2.016/17

Title: Ethics and Intergenerational Climate Extortion

Abstract: This paper argues (i) that extortion is a clear threat in intergenerational relations, (ii) that the threat is manifest in some existing proposals in climate policy, and (iii) that it is latent in some background tendencies in mainstream moral and political philosophy. It focuses on some troubling undercurrents to recent arguments in climate policy and climate ethics for “making the grandchildren pay” for climate action. It also makes the case that intergenerational extortion raises issues about the appropriate limits to the sway of central values such as welfare and distributive justice.

21 November 2018: Dr Marie Guillot (University of Essex)

Venue: ALB 2.016/17

Title: The Value of Experiencing Subjects

Abstract: In recent debates on phenomenal consciousness, a number of writers (including Billon, Gallagher, Kriegel, Nida-Rümelin and Zahavi, among others) defend the idea that in experiencing the world, a subject is also (normally, if not always) aware of herself as the subject of the experience. This basic self-experience is sometimes referred to as the “subjective character” or “me-ness” of consciousness. This paper explores some potential implications of the self-experience thesis in the moral realm.

I start from a joint paper written with Lucy O’Brien, “Self Matters”, in which we discuss Kieran Setiya’s (2015) critical analysis of the notion of ‘self-concern’. That something will happen to me seems to be a reason to care about it in a particular way. As Setiya puts it, there appear to be reasons, in the practical realm, whose force turns on their first-person character. Setiya goes on to reject the self-concern thesis, based on the argument that if we look at how the first-person concept works, we find no grounds for caring particularly about its referent. We try to rescue the notion of self-concern based on an alternative analysis of the first-person concept which gives a more central role to the subject’s agency.

In the present paper, I approach the same problem from a different angle. The first step is to call into question Setiya’s understanding of the first-person concept by suggesting some plausible ways in which this concept might be grounded in basic self-experience. As a second step, I argue that self-concern, properly interpreted, flows from a relation of dependence between the self-concept and this self-experience.

5 December 2018: Dr Joseph Kisolo-Ssonko (University of Nottingham)

*** Please note that this seminar will begin at 15.10 ***

Venue: ALB 2.016/17

Title: Race and the Normative Force of Unjust and Unchosen Social Roles

Abstract: Charles Mills claims that there are specific 'civic and political duties' which individuals have a responsibility to fulfil because of the racial social roles they occupy. However, even those generally sympathetic to Role Ethics resist the idea that such non-voluntary and morally problematic roles could ground genuine normativity. I argue that we should take the felt normativity of non-ideal social roles seriously. Further, I argue that we should agree with Mills that one's race constitutes a social role with normative force. However, I claim that Mills is wrong to seek to ground this normativity in an actual social contract (the ‘racial contract’), instead I argue that it should be grounded in the ontological situation of the agent. I present the case that the power of the norms in question is best understood as grounded in the individual role holder’s involvement in the collective intentionality of the relevant racial class as a social entity.

2018-19: Semester two

6 February 2019: Dr Graham Stevens (University of Manchester)

Venue: ALB 2.016/17

Title: TBC

Abstract: TBC

20 February 2019: Ms Leonie Smith (University of Manchester) / Ms Penelope Orr (University of Manchester)

Venue: HBS 2.53

Title: TBC

Abstract: TBC

6 March 2019: Dr Jeroen Smid (University of Manchester)

Venue: HBS 2.53

Title: TBC

Abstract: TBC

20 March 2019: Prof Thomas Uebel (University of Manchester)

Venue: ALB 2.016/17

Title: TBC

Abstract: TBC

3 April 2019: Dr Rachael Wiseman (University of Liverpool)

Venue: HBS 2.07

Title: TBC

Abstract: TBC

8 May 2019: Dr Dawn Wilson (University of Hull)

Venue: ALB 2.016/17

Title: TBC

Abstract: TBC

15 May 2019: Ms Abi Connor (University of Manchester) / Mr Jon Bebb (University of Manchester)

Venue: ALB 2.016/17

Title: TBC

Abstract: TBC

Previous speakers

2017-18: Abigail Connor (Manchester), Sean Crawford (Manchester), Frederique Janssen-Lauret (Manchester), Francois Recanati (Institute Jean Nicod), Andy Kirton (Manchester), Sophie Grace-Chappell (Open University), Richard Christian (Manchester), Kevin Mulligan (Lugano), Roberta Ballarin (University of British Columbia), Fraser MacBride (Manchester), and Sean Crawford (Manchester).

2016-17: Lubomira Radoilska (Kent), Sylvia Barnett (Manchester), Lea-Cecile Salje (Leeds), Jules Holroyd (Sheffield), Alex Grzankowski (Birkbeck), Chris Hughes (KCL), Helen Beebee (Manchester), Pilar Lopez-Cantero (Manchester), Fred Horton (Manchester), Catharine Abell (Manchester), Joel Smith (Manchester), Joey Montgomery (Manchester), Lydia Farina (Manchester), Michael Scott (Manchester) and Graham Stevens (Manchester), Paula Satne (Manchester), Stephen Ingram (Manchester), and Richard Yetter Chappell (York).

2015-16: Nikk Effingham (Birmingham), Al Mele (FSU), Jess Leech (Sheffield), David A. Nicolas (Jean Nicod), Michaela Massimi (Edinburgh), Catherine Z. Elgin (Harvard), Stacie Friend (Birkbeck), Lee Walters (Southampton), Finn Malcolm (Manchester), Tom Crowther (Warwick), Chris Ovenden (Manchester), Yu Gu (Manchester), Marcello Orieste Fiocco (UC Irvine), Nathan Duckett (Manchester), Helen Yetter Chappell (York), Luke Russell (Sydney), Thomas Smith (Manchester), Pila Lopez-Cantero (Manchester).

2014-15: Nicholas Jones (Birmingham), Emily Caddick Bourne (Cambridge), Kathleen Stock (Sussex), Debbie Roberts (Edinburgh), Christy Mag Uidhir (Houston), Peter Vickers (Durham), Johannes Roessler (Warwick), Heather Logue (Leeds), John Heil (Washington St. Louis), Matthew Smith (Leeds).

2013-14: Ian Proops (Austin), Daniel Whiting (Southampton), Ian Phillips (UCL), Jonathan Farrell (Manchester), Jason Turner (Leeds), Steinvör Thöll Árnadóttir (Stirling), Barry Dainton (Liverpool), Louise Richardson (York), Miranda Fricker (Sheffield), Jani Haikkarainen and Markku Keinanen (Tampere, Finland), Tom Smith (Manchester), Josh Parsons (Oxford), James Maclaurin (Otago).