2017 – 18 Ateliers/Workshops

(Plus de détails à venir/More details to come)


  • 20 oct. 2017 :

Sigrún Svavarsdóttir (Tufts University) “Value Ascriptions

10h-12h – Salle : 223 (2910 Boul. Édouard-Montpetit, métro Université de Montréal)


This paper focuses on value as ascribed to what can be desired, enjoyed, cherished, admired, loved, and so on: value that putatively serves as ground for evaluating such attitudes and for justifying conduct. The main question of the paper is whether such value ascriptions are property ascriptions and why anyone would even think so. Given how the disagreement between cognitivists and non-cognitivists is traditionally construed within metaethics, the question concerns whether cognitivism provides the right approach to value ascriptions and what the basic motivation for that approach is. According to the philosophical lore, the structure of evaluative thought and language prima facie favors the cognitivist thesis that value ascriptions are property ascriptions. This paper rethinks the lessons to be drawn from the structure of evaluative thought and language. The paper does not take sides in the traditional debate between cognitivism and non-cognitivism but, instead, questions how the debate about the nature of value ascriptions has traditionally been framed.


  • 12 janv. 2018 :

Nomy Arpaly (Brown University) “On Benevolence

14h-16h – Salle DS-1950 (320, rue Sainte Catherine Est, UQÀM)


It is widely agreed that benevolence is not the whole of the moral life, but it is not as widely appreciated that benevolence is an irreducible part of that life. This paper argues that Kantian efforts to characterize benevolence, or something like it, in terms of reverence for rational agency fall short. Such reverence, while credibly an important part of the moral life, is no more the whole of it than benevolence.


  • 26 janv. 2018 :

Dale Dorsey (The University of Kansas) “Preferences and Prudential Reasons”

10h-12h –  223 (2910 Boul. Édouard-Montpetit, métro Université de Montréal)

Preference-based theories of the personal good seem to face a problematic implication in cases of prudential choice.  It would seem to make little difference to the quality of a person’s life were they to achieve the content of their preferences rather than to simply direct their preferences toward that which already obtains.  If, for instance, Faith has the choice to simply sign the papers to become an astronaut (which she longs to do) or take a preference-altering pill such that she prefers to remain Earth-bound, a preference-based theory of the good seems to have no principled way to avoid the conclusion that it would be perfectly prudentially rational for Faith to simply flip a coin.  In this paper, I argue that this implication depends on two interpretive choices: first, the interpretation of a preference-based theory of the good and, second, the interpretation of prudential reasons and prudential rationality.  I argue that these interpretations are not forced, and that interpreting them in a way that avoids this problematic neutrality is defensible.


  • 9 fév. 2018 :

Ralph Wedgwood (University of Southern California) The Measurement of Value”

10h-12h – Salle 223 (2910 Boul. Édouard-Montpetit, métro Université de Montréal)


When one state of affairs A is in a way better than another state of affairs B, does it make sense to inquire how much better A is in this way than B? Is goodness amenable to any kind of cardinal measurement?

In the utilitarian tradition, it sometimes seems implicitly assumed that goodness is amenable to the same kind of extensive measurement as quantities like mass or volume. According to this assumption, goodness is like a kind of stuff, and inquiring how good the world is as a whole is like inquiring about the total mass or volume of this stuff in the world as a whole. It will be argued here this assumption is open to grave objections.

An alternative account is suggested. First, there is reason to think that goodness can be measured on an interval scale (not a ratio scale). Goodness seems to form a difference structure: we can meaningfully say, not only that one state of affairs is better than another, but also that the first state is “much better” or “slightly better” than the other. In other words, we can compare differences in value between pairs of states of affairs.

Secondly, the best explanation of this lies in a fundamental connection between value and probability. In effect, it is part of the job description of a value that it should play nicely with probability functions. Every value is capable of interacting with every probability function to provide a corresponding notion of expected value (according to that probability function). This requires that the value must have the kind of quantitative structure that can be captured by an interval scale.


  • 23 mars 2018 :

Ulf Hlobil (Concordia University)  On Weighing Reasons with Defeaters”

10h-12h – 223 (2910 Boul. Édouard-Montpetit, métro Université de Montréal)


According to the Reasoning View about normative reasons, R is a normative reason to φ just in case R can figure as a premise in good reasoning that results in φ-ing. As is widely recognized among advocates of the Reasoning View (e.g. Setiya, Way, Asarnow), the most important challenge for the Reasoning View is to give an account of how reasons can be outweighed. It is also widely recognized that this is best done by appeal to the defeasibility of reasoning. After introducing the Reasoning View, I start by criticizing different accounts of weights in terms of defeasibility. I then offer my own account of the weights in terms of defeasibility. A crucial feature of the account is that it distinguishes premises of practical reasoning from background attitudes. Along the way, I introduce notions of enablers, obligations, and virtuous action. I end by suggesting that the “objective ought” and “objective reasons” are idealizations, and that the “subjective ought” and “subjective reasons” are primary.


  • 14 mai 2018 :

Jonathan Way (University of Southampton)

 “The Distinctiveness of Fittingness

15h-16h30 – Salle : S-M- 205, Concordia University


According to fitting-attitudes accounts of value, evaluative properties are to be analysed in terms of what’s fitting to value – e.g. the admirable is what’s fitting to admire, the delightful is what’s fitting to delight in, the loathsome is what’s fitting to loathe. Such accounts raise the question of what it is to be fitting to value something. While some proponents of fitting-attitudes accounts analyse fittingness in terms of reasons, obligations, or permissibility, others have suggested that fittingness is a distinctive and unanalysable normative property.  This paper defends this latter view. We proceed by noting three marks of fittingness: that incentives for attitudes do not bear on their fittingness, that fitting is stronger than permissibility but weaker than obligation, and that absences of attitudes cannot be fitting. We argue that these marks allow us to distinguish fittingness from other normative properties and cast doubt on the prospects of analysing fittingness in other normative terms. The upshot is support not only for fitting-attitude accounts of value but for fitting-attitude accounts of other normative properties too.

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