SOPhiA 2017

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

"Why be moral?" Scanlon on morality and normativity
(Ethics, English)

The philosophers of the social contract tradition set out to account for the validity of principles of justice and of various ways of interacting with each other in terms of justification. Tim Scanlon, for instance, grounds the moral rightness of actions in their interpersonal justifiability. Yet the Foole and the immoralist object that the philosophical arguments that establish the legitimacy of particular principles of justice are themselves unable to show why we should care about morality in the first place. But what exactly is the status of this question? Does it call for an answer that the moral theory itself should provide? And especially, does it threaten to undermine the ground of morality? Looking at the way Scanlon deals with what he calls, in chapter 4 of What We Owe to Each Other, Prichard's dilemma, I will commit myself to analyse in my talk the relationship between the normative domain of reasons and the moral domain, and thereby delimit the scope of the moral question of justification. As Prichard's dilemma makes clear, it can't be satisfactory, in answering the ''why be moral?'' question, either to provide the immoralist with moral grounds, indicating for example that the action he intends to perform is wrong, as this would presuppose that he recognizes the authority of precisely that which he calls into question, or to appeal to his self-interest, underlying for instance the costs of social ostracism, since this would constitute a reason of the wrong kind for doing the right thing. If the arguments that aim to demonstrate that a particular action is right or wrong cannot at the same time tell us why we should care about acting morally, the Foole's objection is then maybe unintelligible when understood as a moral question. This is rather a normative question, one that asks for a reason and falls outside the ambit of any moral theory framed in terms of justification. As such, it neither threatens (contra Parfit) to undermine morality nor shows (contra Darwall) that the contractualist moral theory still needs to be grounded.

Chair: Jonas Blatter
Time: 10:00-10:30, 15 September 2017 (Friday)
Location: SR 1.007

Victor Mardellat 
(Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, France)

I am a French student in philosophy, particularly interested in ethics and political philosophy. I was first educated in continental philosophy, but then discovered analytic philosophy: I have been highly interested in Axel Honneth's theory of recognition, before being strongly attracted by the moral and political philosophy of Thomas M. Scanlon, one central notion of which precisely is recognition. Before studying philosophy, I studied political sciences both in France and Germany, which helps me to bear in mind some of the practical implications of the research projects I work on. And I am also a passionate musician, clarinet player and singer (baryto)!

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