Jingzhi Chen

I am a first-year PhD student in the Philosophy Department at McGill. Prior to my study at McGill, I studied legal philosophy at the University of Oxford (D.Phil, M.Phil) and China University of Political Science and Law (Master of Laws). My doctoral study at McGill is generously supported by the Tomlinson Doctoral Fellowship.

My academic interests lie in political and legal philosophy. My research project at GRIN focuses on the grounds of associative obligations, obligations that we owe to people such as our parents, friends, or lovers. There are various ways to approach the problem of associative obligations, and my focus is mainly on their practice-dependent feature. Some theorists appeal to our mental activities to justify associative obligations, such as our valuing, identification with,or commitment to a special relationship with our associates. However, one worry about this approach is that those mental activities might be primarily influenced by social culture, which presumes the existence of associative obligations. For instance, a mom’s commitment to her relationship with her child is largely influenced by the social culture in which a mother is expected to commit to her parent-child relationship. In this way, it seems circular when theorists appeal to our mental activities cultivated under social culture to justify associative obligations. In my research,I hope to explain in what sense we can still be voluntary in forming our commitments even though they are heavily shaped by the social culture. If this claim can be established, it is still possible to ground associative obligations in those mental activities.