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10:00 – 11:15 Keynote: Charlotte Unruh (Munich): Doing Harm, Doing Good
Abstract: The Harm-Benefit-Asymmetry is the claim that the reason against doing harm is stronger than the reason for doing good. Shelly Kagan has argued that deontologists face a challenge: they need to accept the Harm-Benefit-Asymmetry to explain intuitions in rescue cases, but they lack a justification for the asymmetry. In this talk, I aim to resolve Kagan’s challenge. I first argue that deontologists can explain rescue cases without appealing to the Harm-Benefit-Asymmetry, but that they need the asymmetry to explain pure benefit cases. I then sketch a justification for the Harm-Benefit-Asymmetry that draws on the deontological distinction between doing and allowing.
11:15 – 11:30 Short break
11:30 – 12:45 Jonas Haeg (KCL): A Duty to Accommodate Wrongdoers?
Commentator: Theron Pummer
Abstract: It is intuitive to think that we are required to take at least minor steps to, effectively, accommodate wrongdoers. For instance, we should run away rather than impose serious defensive harm on aggressors, and we should avoid getting ourselves into dangerous situations if we can relatively easily avoid it. Some argue against this and claim that we are never under a duty to incur any costs for the sake of accommodating wrongdoers in these kinds of cases. Part of their argument is that a duty to accommodate wrongdoers leads to counterintuitive results. In this paper, I argue that the sceptic is wrong. Their alleged counterexamples do not entail that we are never required to accommodate wrongdoers. It is perfectly compatible with the more intuitively plausible view that we are sometimes required to accommodate wrongdoers at small costs to ourselves.
12:45 – 14:00 Lunch Break
15:00 – 16:15 Pietro Cibinel (Princeton): Second Thoughts on the Paretian Route to Utilitarianism
Commentator: Luca Stroppa
Abstract. If, in a decision under risk, every person affected by your choice rationally prefers that you act one way, then you should act that way. This Paretian principle should be appealing to many, including non-utilitarians. However, accepting this Paretian principle and rejecting a utilitarian principle of distribution delivers counterintuitive verdicts in the context of diachronic choice, as Doody (manuscript) and Kowalczyk (forthcoming) show. I suggest that Paretian non-utilitarians respond to this problem by adopting a limited version of the diachronic principle of resolute choice, for moral decision-making. This move can be motivated by appealing both to people’s capacity to waive future claims at some earlier time, and to the fact that, the further apart these two times are, the harder it becomes to exercise this capacity. This limit to this capacity is due to the fact that one’s later self might justifiably have second thoughts about the earlier self’s decision. The resulting view shares more with utilitarianism than some non-utilitarians would be willing to accept; unlike utilitarianism, however, it makes room for certain considerations of fairness.
16:15 – 16:30 Small Break
16:30 – 17:45 Keynote: Jonathan Quong (USC): Paternalism, Disagreement, and Groups
Abstract: Some claim that paternalism necessarily involves attempting to benefit someone against their expressed or assumed preferences. More strongly, Jonathan Parry has argued that is it always presumptively wrong to benefit someone against their competent wishes. This, I argue, is false: there are many cases where we do not wrong someone by benefitting them against their competent wishes. This is true, I suggest, because paternalism’s distinctive wrongness involves the paternalizer acting on the basis of a negative judgment about the paternalizee. Benefitting someone against their wishes need not involve this kind of negative judgment. I argue that this alternative construal of paternalism has significant practical implications for acts that involve benefits to groups.
10:00 – 11:15 Solmu Anttila (VU Amsterdam): Do Citizens have a Responsibility to be Informed?
Commentator: Ben Sachs
Abstract: This paper investigates 1) whether or what kind of moral and political responsibilities citizens have to be knowledgeable about some set of topics or claims, and 2) whether or what kinds of epistemic responsibilities citizens have to treat, receive, transmit, exchange, or generate information. I call these two sets of responsibilities the political-epistemic responsibilities (of citizens).
The first section of the paper investigates the moral and political responsibilities of citizens to be knowledgeable about some set of topics and claims. First, I make a distinction between moral and political responsibilities. Moral responsibilities of citizens’ knowledgeability involve the ethical nature and ethically relevant aspects of the informing oneself. Moral responsibilities involve a freedom and an epistemic condition: to be morally responsible, citizens must be free in their actions to inform themselves and they must be aware about the moral nature and consequences of their actions. I raise challenges to both of these conditions, and argue that the freedom condition is at best highly limited especially in regard to politically relevant claims, while the epistemic condition of moral responsibility in general cannot reasonably be met. Political responsibilities of information involve the responsibilities of each agent in the political structure to fulfil their political role and duty. Political responsibilities involve a responsibility distribution within the citizens’ state or constituency. I argue that proportional responsibility distributions (see Pasternak, 2021) do not suggest political responsibilities for citizens, while non-proportional responsibility distributions are ultimately unjustified (Anttila, forthcoming). Additionally, I argue that if it is understood that both kinds of responsibility involve accountability, because without some form of consequence of being held liable, responsibility is meaningless, the condition of accountability is infeasible.
The second section investigates whether citizenship involves some set of epistemic responsibilities to treat, receive, transmit, exchange, or generate information in specific ways. Epistemic responsibilities are responsibilities according to which an epistemic agent ought to treat information in a specific way or in accordance with a set of epistemic virtues in order for their belief in it to be justified or in order, in the case that someone is epistemically responsible for another person, to not mislead others. I argue that while the liberal conception of citizenship (Honohan, 2017) does not conceptually entail any specific epistemic responsibilities, the republican conception of citizenship (ibid.; Beiner, 1995) can be interpreted to include epistemic responsibilities. This opens a narrow possibility for a republican political-epistemic responsibility that takes into account the previously discussed limitations from moral and political responsibility.
The penultimate section discusses the implications of the argument against political-epistemic responsibilities for the theory of epistemic democracy, according to which a strength of democratic systems of government is their ability to ‘track the truth’ (List & Goodin, 2001) about political decisions. I argue that the argument against political-epistemic responsibility does not threaten the viability of deliberative and non-deliberative forms of epistemic democracy. In fact, I argue, a strong accountability measure for political-epistemic responsibilities might threaten epistemic democracy.
The last section summarises more plausibly effective ways to combat and prevent the spread of misinformation than a bestowal of political-epistemic responsibilities.
11:15 – 11:30 Short break
11:30 – 12:45 Ronja Griep (Cambridge): When Does Bodily Shame Go Wrong? The Case of Menstrual Shaming
Commentator: Lara Jost
Abstract: I argue that menstrual shaming constitutes an injustice in a grey area: attending to the phenomenology of menstrual shaming shows that such shaming restricts women’s habits and lifestyles severely. I argue that such habit-formation influenced by shame and institutional failures leads to women’s self-respect being undermined. It undermines their self-respect at early yet important stages of women’s lives, while remaining often invisible and highly normalised. This account of injustice arising from the phenomenology of menstrual shaming, I conclude, gives us important insights into which other forms of bodily shaming constitute injustice and why they do so.
12:45 – 14:00 Lunch Break
15:00 – 16:15 Eliza Wells (MIT): Social Roles and Moral Ignorance
Commentator: Nick Küspert
Abstract: The following claim is frequently offered as an attempt to avoid blame for wrong actions: “I didn’t know I was doing anything wrong; I was just doing my job.” Philosophers and laypeople alike tend to reject this kind of excuse; in particular, the appeal to one’s job as a way to deflect responsibility can seem morally suspect. I argue, however, that this appeal can be legitimate. Social roles involve deliberative as well as behavioral constraints. These deliberative constraints can include exclusionary reasons: second-order reasons not to take certain considerations into account. Role-occupants may thus be genuinely ignorant that their actions are wrong, because they exclude the considerations that ground their actions’ wrongness from their practical reasoning. I argue that in these cases, the excuse above functions as a successful appeal to the epistemic condition on moral responsibility, which allows ignorance to excuse agents from blameworthiness for wrong actions. Agents who are “just doing their jobs” may experience non-culpable ignorance.
16:15 – 16:30 Small Break
16:30 – 17:45 Keynote: Susan Notess (Durham): The Mistakenness of ‘Charity’: On Organ Donation and Reciprocity
Abstract: When we do philosophy, we always start from somewhere, and where we start from shapes the kinds of questions we ask and the types of answers we will be able to find. The starting places ordinarily available to us in mainstream analytic philosophy lead us to find a rich vein of normative questions to be asked around issues such as the ethics of charity, including the fairly unusual case of charitable organ donation. In this talk, I locate a very different potential starting point in North American Indigenous Philosophers’ work, and I trace the rather different sets of questions and answers that arise when we begin from there. I invite the audience to think with me through the comparison between these sets of questions, reflecting on what we can learn about reciprocity and charity, including in the case of organ donation. Finally, I will suggest some ways that our meta-philosophical assumptions might be troubled by this exercise, inviting discussion of the philosophical values of accountability, responsibility, and reciprocity.