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:: Calls :: Workshop on The Normative Significance of Normative Beliefs is set for May 23 at the University of Southampton. Speakers: Daniel Fogal (Uppsala), Maria Lasonen-Aarnio (Michigan), Paulina Sliwa (Cambridge) and Daniel Whiting (Southampton). Call for respondents: Feb 29

Suppose that Ananya ought to keep her promise but believes that she ought to break it. If Ananya keeps her promise, is she is criticisable, for example, as weak-willed or irrational? If Ananya breaks her promise, is she also criticisable or blameworthy for her wrongdoing? The issue here is the difference, if any, Ananya’s belief about what she ought to do makes to the assessment or evaluation of her actions. What difference it makes depends, one might think, on whether that belief is rational or reasonable. Ananya is blameless for acting on her belief if, or only if, it is reasonable for her to hold it. But there is a complication. Ananya’s false belief might be due to a mistake about the non-moral facts, say, about whether the promise was made under duress, or to a mistake about morality, say, about whether there is an obligation to keep promises. If she is blameless in the first case for acting on her belief, at least when the mistake is reasonable, is she also blameless in the second case? If not, that is, if it is not reasonable for Ananya to act on her belief, is it reasonable for her to have it? There is a further complication. Suppose that Ananya’s belief that she ought to break her promise is not rational but she believes that it is. Does this higher-order belief make a difference to the evaluation or assessment of her original belief? If so, does it make a difference in turn to the assessment or evaluation of her actions? If not, what does that tell us about the rationality of the higher-order belief?

Reflection on Ananya’s case raises a more general issue. When a person has or lacks a belief about the normative status of some act or attitude, what consequences, if any, does it have for the normative status of that act or attitude? In turn, what are the consequences of this, if any, for the normative status of the relevant belief? This workshop will bring together philosophers from ethics and epistemology to explore issues at the intersection of these subject areas. It will unearth and investigate connections between what might seem to be distinct debates on praise and blame, moral responsibility, weakness of will, reasons and rationality, higher-order evidence, pragmatic encroachment, normative uncertainty, and other topics. In doing so, it will point in the direction of new lines of inquiry for ethics and epistemology.

Call for respondents

Each presentation will be followed by a 10-15 min response. If you would like to respond to one of the talks, please send a short CV and a short statement of how the themes of the workshop bear on your present research interests (150 words max.), if that is not obvious from the CV, to Daniel Whiting (d.whiting@soton.ac.uk) by 29th February 2016.

If funds allow, the Organizers will cover respondents’ reasonable expenses for accommodation and travel within the UK. The informatiom will be confirmed this nearer the time.

Further information
Details concerning the schedule, travel, and how to register to be announced soon.