Alan Thomas ‘Epistemic Justice, Steadiness of Mind and Self-Deception’, Oxford April 2nd 2014 11:55 – 12:45Posted: March 27, 2014
‘Epistemic Justice, Steadiness of Mind and Self-Deception’
Ethics of Cognition Project
Workshop: the Ethics of Self-Deception
Ryle Room, Faculty of Philosophy, Radcliffe Observatory Quarter
This paper develops a general characterisation of epistemic wrongs as forms of derogation before characterising specifically epistemic injustices as putative disqualifications of an interlocutor from the status of knower. The account is related to Williams’s discussion of the generic epistemic virtues of Sincerity, Accuracy and the role of the third person in “steadying the mind”. There is a constitutive connection between sociality and the individual epistemic vice of self-deception. The connection between this account and Williams’s liberal political psychology is, in turn, explained via the republican ideal of freedom as non-domination.
Professor of Philosophy, University of San Diego,
Director, Institute for Law and Philosophy University of San Diego School of Law
Location: Dante Building Room 5
This talk explores the adequacy of Sidgwick’s contrast between the egocentrism of ancient ethics and the impartiality of modern ethics by evaluating the resources of eudaimonists, especially Aristotle and the Stoics, to defend a cosmopolitan conception of the common good. The adequacy of various eudaimonist defenses of the common good may depend on our conception of the common good. Adapting Broad’s comparison of egoism, utilitarianism, and self-referential altruism, we might distinguish between the scope and weight of ethical concern. We might then distinguish ethical conceptions that are parochial with respect to both scope and weight, conceptions that are cosmopolitan with respect to both scope and weight, and mixed conceptions that combine universal scope and variable weight. Aristotle’s eudaimonist justification of the common good appears doubly parochial. By contrast, the Stoics offer a eudaimonist defense of the common good that is purely cosmopolitan. But the Stoics have trouble providing a eudaimonist defense of a cosmopolitan conception of the common good. However, Aristotelian eudaimonism has resources to justify a mixed cosmopolitan conception of the common good that combines universal scope and variable weight. If Broad’s reservations about Sidgwick’s utilitarianism are correct, mixed cosmopolitanism may be cosmopolitanism enough.
It has recently been suggested that metaethical debate must be fundamentally re-framed. Instead of carving out metaethical differences in representational terms, appealing to notions such as truth, belief and representation, Matthew Chrisman in particular has argued that metaethics should be given an inferentialist footing. In this talk, I will cast doubt on Chrisman’s proposal by confronting metaethical inferentialists with the following dilemma: Either, they stay true to inferentialism but cannot save the metaethical differences. Or they succeed in putting metaethical demarcation lines back into place, but now end up merely rehashing orthodox metaethical debates, rather than providing a novel approach to metaethics. I will conclude by considering what we can learn from this dilemma about the dialectic behind the development of inferentialist metaethics.
‘Mixed versus Moderate Traits: On the Evaluative Status of Empirically Sound Character’
Location: CZ 118
In a recent pair of books Christian Miller has argued for an empirically robust theory of moral character, which he calls the ‘Mixed Traits’ view. These traits are mixed in the sense that they have a mixed evaluative valence, a rather novel idea which does not clearly match with a pre-theoretical view of character. In this paper I will argue that the challenge of squaring psychological findings about personality and behaviour with pre-theoretical ideas about moral character does not require such a radical account. The challenge of situationism can be met if we give consideration to the role of moderate character traits. I will show why moderate traits can meet the empirical challenge, and why this model is preferable to the mixed traits account.
University of Oxford Faculty of Philosophy,
Radcliffe Observatory Quarter
Oxford OX2 6GG
EC Marie Curie Fellow in Philosophy, University of Oxford
Junior Research Fellow in Philosophy, Mansfield College, Oxford
Early Career Fellow, The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities
Registration is free. If you plan to attend, and for any further questions please email
The conference is funded by The Mind Association, with the collaboration of The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities
2:30 p. m. – 3:30 p. m. Miranda Fricker: “The Humanistic Discipline”
3:30 p. m. – 4:30 p. m. Timothy Chappell: “Recognising Reasons”
4:30 p. m. – 5:00 p. m. Break
5:00 p. m. – 6:30 p. m. Nakul Krishna: “Alternatives to Moral Theory”
Elianna Fetterolf: “Remorse beyond the Morality System”
Adrian Moore: “Replies to Nakul Krishna and Elianna Fetterolf
9:30 a. m. – 10:45 a. m. Simon Blackburn: “Bernard Williams, Adam Smith, and the Peculiar Piacular”
10:45 a. m. – 11:15 a. m. Break
11:15 a. m. – 12:15 a. m. Roger Crisp: “D’où Venons Nous … Que Sommes Nous … Où Allons Nous? Williams on Moral Luck”
2:00 p. m. – 3:00 p. m. Alan Thomas: “Williams’s Political Psychology: Between Moralism and Realism?”
3:00 p. m. – 4:00 p. m. Edward Harcourt: “The Morality System and ‘The Idea of Equality’”
4:00 p. m. – 4: 30 p. m. Break
4:30 p. m. – 5:30 p. m. Paul Russell: “Hume, Williams, and ‘the Morality System’”
‘Libertarianism and Capitalism: A Reality Check’
Department of Politics
University of Amsterdam
Location Dante Building Room 10.
October 30 Bruno Verbeek (Leiden) ‘You Did Not Build that Road: Reciprocity, Benefits, Opportunities and Taxing the Extremely Rich’Posted: September 26, 2013
16:30 – 18:00
Dante Building Room 7 (DZ7)
Recently, many states in the Western world, confronted with a fall in revenues and rising debts on the one hand and growing economic inequality on the other, have taken a critical look at the tax rates for the extremely rich. In various places, policies have been proposed to the effect that the 1% of the highest income earners should pay (much) more in taxes than they currently do.
A typical argumentative strategy that is used to argue for increases in the marginal tax burden for the extremely rich is to argue that the extreme rich amassed their wealth by taking advantage of economic opportunities that they did not create themselves. Other members of society created those opportunities and reciprocity therefore demands that the extremely rich ‘pay’ for these opportunities they enjoyed.
In this paper I argue, first, that arguments like these fail: they do not justify a marginally higher tax burden on the extremely rich. Secondly, I argue that this type of argument appeals to a principle according to which taxation is the price a citizen pays for the enjoyment of the benefits the state provides. Third, I will show that such a principle not only undercuts the argument, but also that it mandates a flat tax rate if not a lump-sum tax.
In the final part of the paper, I briefly discuss an argument for taxing the extremely rich that does not appeal to a benefit principle. This argument proceeds from the idea that justice demands that taxation is levied according to the ability to pay. Social-democrats and left liberals who are concerned about the extremely high incomes on the top end of the income distribution are better advised to adopt such a strategy.