Alan Thomas ‘Epistemic Justice, Steadiness of Mind and Self-Deception’, Oxford April 2nd 2014 11:55 – 12:45

‘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.

April 30, 2014, 16:30 – 18:00 David Brink (San Diego) ‘Eudaimonism and Cosmopolitan Concern’


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.

April 9, 16:30 – 18:00 Christine Tiefensee (Bamberg) ‘A Dilemma for Metaethical Inferentialists’



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.

Wednesday, March 26th 2014, 16:30 – 18:00 Tom Bates, University of Leiden

‘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.