The University of Southampton
PhilosophyPart of Humanities

The Normative Significance of Normative BeliefsEvent

23 May 2016
Building 65 Room 1173, Avenue Campus, University of Southampton, Highfield Road, Southampton, SO17 1BF.

For more information regarding this event, please email Daniel Whiting at .

Event details

Suppose that Ananya ought to keep her promise but believes that she ought to break it. If Ananya keeps her promise, is she is criticisable, for example, as weak-willed or irrational? If Ananya breaks her promise, is she also criticisable or blameworthy for her wrongdoing? The issue here is the difference, if any, Ananya's belief about what she ought to do makes to the assessment or evaluation of her actions. What difference it makes depends, one might think, on whether that belief is rational or reasonable. Ananya is blameless for acting on her belief if, or only if, it is reasonable for her to hold it. But there is a complication. Ananya's false belief might be due to a mistake about the non-moral facts, say, about whether the promise was made under duress, or to a mistake about morality, say, about whether there is an obligation to keep promises. If she is blameless in the first case for acting on her belief, at least when the mistake is reasonable, is she also blameless in the second case? If not, that is, if it is not reasonable for Ananya to act on her belief, is it reasonable for her to have it? There is a further complication. Suppose that Ananya's belief that she ought to break her promise is not rational but she believes that it is. Does this higher-order belief make a difference to the evaluation or assessment of her original belief? If so, does it make a difference in turn to the assessment or evaluation of her actions? If not, what does that tell us about the rationality of the higher-order belief?

Reflection on Ananya's case raises a more general issue. When a person has or lacks a belief about the normative status of some act or attitude, what consequences, if any, does it have for the normative status of that act or attitude? In turn, what are the consequences of this, if any, for the normative status of the relevant belief? This workshop will bring together philosophers from ethics and epistemology to explore issues at the intersection of these subject areas. It will unearth and investigate connections between what might seem to be distinct debates on praise and blame, moral responsibility, weakness of will, reasons and rationality, higher-order evidence, pragmatic encroachment, normative uncertainty, and other topics. In doing so, it will point in the direction of new lines of inquiry for ethics and epistemology.

Confirmed Speakers:

Maria Lasonen-Aarnio (Michigan)

Paulina Sliwa (Cambridge)

Daniel Fogal (Uppsala)

Further speakers to be announced soon

Organiser: Daniel Whiting, University of Southampton

BPA/SWIP - This workshop is being organised in accordance with the British Philosophical Association/Society for Women in Philosophy Good Practice Guidelines on Conferences and Seminar Series.

Further Information

Details concerning the schedule, travel and how to register to be announced soon.

The workshop is supported by the Southampton Ethics Centre, the Faculty of Humanities and the Analysis Trust


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