« Séminaire de métaéthique »
ENS – 29 rue d’Ulm – 75005 Paris
Salle du Centre Cavaillès (3ème étage, droite)
• 4 avril 2018
Séminaire de 15h30 à 17h30
Pekka Vayrynen (University of Leeds), « Normative Explanation and Justification »
Normative explanations are explanations of why something has a particular normative feature. Explanations of why things are wrong, good, or unfair are ubiquitous in ordinary normative practice and moral, political, and legal theory, and yet there is much less work on what makes for a correct normative explanation than on what makes for a correct scientific explanation. I argue that normative explanation is subject to a justification condition: roughly, a correct explanation of why a normative fact holds must, in some way, indicate that the actions or attitudes which that normative fact calls for are justified. This claim falls out of various theories of normative reasons and various characterizations of normative justification, and fits well with our ordinary normative practice. I also argue that this condition doesn’t make normative explanation discontinuous with non-causal explanations in other domains: it can be captured as a special case of a certain general feature of explanation, in particular its hyperintensionality. Thus I hope my discussion to cast light on the broader issue of how normative explanation may be similar to and different from explanation in other domains.
• 23 mai 2018
Séminaire de 15h30 à 17h30, en salle Paul Langevin (29, rue d’Ulm, 1er étage gauche)
Sergio Tenenbaum (University of Toronto), « Value Disagreement, Action, and Commitment »
The problem of disagreement is a well-known tool in the arsenal of various moral anti-realist and skeptical views. The fact of persistent disagreement about moral issues among different cultures, or different people in the same culture, is supposed to be evidence that our moral judgments do not track a realm of objective values. Moral realists and objectivists of various stripes have tried to answer these challenges. These philosophers often appeal to claims that the extent of disagreement is exaggerated and that similar forms of disagreement show up in other domains, or that some forms of moral realism or objectivism are immune to these challenges. I will not be concerned at all with these issues in this chapter ; I will be concerned with a different challenge raised by the fact of value disagreement, a challenge that has received significantly less attention in the philosophical literature.
Here is a very preliminary way to put the challenge : whether or not disagreement raises doubts about moral realism or objectivity, it should, at least under certain circumstances, lower our confidence in our evaluative judgments. But such lowering of confidence, if taken seriously, seems to leave us with no way to move from our judgments to actions ; neither is our usual commitment to morality in particular justified, nor is any particular course of action based on these evaluative judgments justified. The concern here is similar to the concern that theoretical skepticism might lead us to
paralysis, but it turns out to be significantly more intractable, or so I’ll argue. In other words, our topic is not skepticism about the reality of values, but skepticism about rational action based on our evaluative judgment ; I will call this kind of skepticism “commitment skepticism”. My claim is that the most promising solution to commitment skepticism is to deny that first step and argue that some form of practical certainty resists the argument from disagreement. I argue that Kant’s view about our awareness of the moral law provides a way of accepting that at least an important core of our practical knowledge can warrant full commitment to action.
• 30 mai 2018
Michele Palmira (University of Barcelona & LOGOS Research Group), « How to Respond Rationally to Moral Disagreement »
In this talk I tackle the question of how we should respond to moral disagreement with our acknowledged epistemic peers. In the first part of the talk I examine and criticise two answers to this question: the conciliatory answer maintaining that we should suspend judgement, and the steadfast answer claiming that we should retain our beliefs. My main line of criticism is developed around the idea that both answers fail to appreciate the multifaceted nature of moral disagreement. In the second part of the talk I outline a third-way answer, which hinges on two main contentions. First, disagreement is evidence which should lead the peers to re-assess their epistemic position vis-à-vis the issue at stake. Secondly, this re-assessment, which can result in various outcomes depending on the specific disagreement case at stake, can be rationally carried out while entertaining a sui generis doxastic attitude which I call “hypothesis”. In the third part of the talk I test my third-way answer against various cases of moral disagreement in order to show that it fares better than its conciliatory and steadfast rivals.
• 13 juin 2018