The 2015 MA ConferencePosted: May 26, 2015
This year’s conference was a rousing success and featured a fascinating range of topics. Congratulations to all of our speakers for a job well done!
Jeremy Scharoun: “The Equanimity of Hard Incompatibilism”
Derk Pereboom disagrees with P.F. Strawson that we would lose reactive attitudes if we abandoned the concepts of free will and responsibility. He thinks the reactive attitudes can be modified in a way that preserves, and perhaps even enriches interpersonal relationships. In a recent paper, Seth Shabo argues that Pereboom’s “containment strategy” is unsuccessful and defends Strawson’s claim that adopting the hard incompatibilist perspective would be damaging. Drawing on work by David Goldman and Nick Trakakis, I defend Pereboom from Shabo’s critique by developing an alternative way to modify the reactive attitudes.
Katherine Bourdeau: “Exercising Epistemic Virtues”
I will argue that the unique shape of gay and lesbian subordination, though different from other types of subordination, can still encourage the development of a ‘double consciousness,’ as described by José Medina in “The Epistemology of Resistance.” The development of a double consciousness is beneficial to cultivate the epistemic virtues that Medina describes: epistemic humility, openmindedness, and curiosity, which, when combined, can encourage a kaleidoscopic consciousness. To look at a practical application, I will use the example of the Ontario curriculum changes to the Health and Physical Education program that are to be implemented in September 2015. Ultimately, I want to demonstrate how an epistemically virtuous agent should best respond to opposition of various forms.
Corey Brazeau: “Understanding How Genealogies Ought to be Done”
Michel Foucault is widely recognized, amongst a wide array of different academic disciplines, for having developed a particular method of analyzing history, which is referred to as the genealogical method. Ian Hacking is a self-proclaimed Foucauldian who, in presenting his own genealogical analyses, has criticized some of the other Foucault followers for having produced genealogical accounts that, according to him, misrepresent the phenomena that their work is supposed to be analyzing. Thus, the central theme of this presentation will be a meta-philosophical one that will explore the question of what a proper genealogical study ought to do, and, in doing so, it’ll take a deeper look at the nature of Hacking’s criticisms and it’ll explain how his criticisms are relevant to that wider question.
Dante Matas: “Synesthesia as a Primordial Mode of Perception”
Synesthesia is a phenomenon where one perceives through a blending of the senses. Such a perception could involve one’s sense of sight evoking a particular taste, or one’s sense of hearing evoking a particular scent, amongst other possible combinations. My aim in this paper is to show how the phenomenon of synesthesia might be understood in terms of what Merleau-Ponty calls a practical synthesis. Furthermore, certain examples and arguments that I will present suggest that synesthesia, as a mode of perception that blends the senses, may be a more basic mode of perception than one that isolates the senses.
Michael Goddard-Duncan: “The Implausibility of an Act-Oriented Approach to Ethics and the Environment”
In this project I hope to demonstrate that an act-oriented paradigm of ethics (such as Kant’s deontology) cannot provide justifiable moral commands when concerning our interactions with the environment. I also argue that in virtue of its structure an act-oriented ethics fails to provide guidance for whole classes of moral problems that we are confronted with due to climate change. For reasons of these failures I make the assertion that we ought not conceive of our obligations to the environment in an act-oriented paradigm. Derived from this I make an additional assertion that we ought to use a virtue ethics framework, which does not fall prey to these same inherent problems.
Adrian Rosu: “Tracing the Transgression: To What Extent Can the Problem Cases for a Control-Based Account of Moral Responsibility be Resolved by Tracing Theory?”
Control-based accounts of moral responsibility face a common problem: there are some actions that look like clear-cut cases of responsibility, but which appear to lack the requisite control (drunk-driving cases are the classic example of this). The common solution to this problem is to appeal to tracing—an agent’s responsibility for some action can be explained by tracing back to a prior exercise of control that caused the later action. By providing examples that seem to lack a prior suitable time to trace back to, some have argued that tracing is an untenable solution. I wish to defend tracing against these objections by presenting a coarse-grained approach that guarantees the existence of a suitable terminus when an agent is morally responsible for the action.