SOPhiA 2019

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Practical Wisdom (without Virtue Ethics)?
(Ethics, English)

Practical wisdom has gained popularity in ethics and beyond lately. Especially in applied ethics such as business ethics or ethics of artificial intelligence, practical wisdom is taken to be a promising guidance with respect to practical deliberation resp. moral decision making. Dennis Moberg for instance defines wisdom in the context of business ethics as "a disposition toward cleverness in crafting morally excellent responses to, or in anticipation of, challeng-ing particularities." (Moberg 2007, 535)

Wisdom -- in contemporary writings primarily conceptualized as knowledge (Whitcomb 2011; Kekes 1995), reflection (Tiberius 2008) or rationality (Ryan 2012) -- enables agents to gather and evaluate relevant knowledge concerning moral standards as well as e.g. (individual) well-being. Furthermore, it empowers agents to reflect on their own be-lieves and intentions within a specific context regarding oneself and others. In short, wisdom shows itself in good comprehensive judgment and in its capacity to be action guiding. In the light of this very brief (and by no means sufficient) definition it becomes clear why practical wisdom has gained popularity in ethics lately: It seems to make good practical deliberation and good (moral) judgment feasible and accessible not only to average human moral agents but also to e.g. artificial moral agents. At a second glance however, it is questionable whether practical wisdom is up for that task. First, it is doubtful whether practical wisdom can be conceptually detached from a virtue ethical framework. Presumably its power as well as its plausibility depends largely on its embedment into an ethical framework that includes virtues in some way. Otherwise, practical wisdom might not be distinguishable from mere practical rationality. Second, wisdom seems to presuppose a comprehensive knowledge of moral standards, well-being and other relevant standards and facts. Accordingly, it seems to be quite demanding. How does this go together with its supposed feasibility for many; be that humans or artificial intelligent agents? It is the aim of this talk to address this and similar worries regarding practical wisdom and its role in (applied) ethics.

Time: 10:40-11:10, 19 September 2019 (Thursday)
Location: SR 1.004

Eva Bobst 
(Dep. of Philosophy, Vienna, Austria)

I received both my BA and my MA degree in philosophy and german studies at the University of Berne in Switzerland. In my master thesis ? supervised by Prof. Dr. Monika Betzler ? I investigate the epistemological role of moral intuitions in ethics. After an internship (1 year) at the Swiss Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research I moved to Vienna where I started a doctorate in philosophy together with a position as an assistant at the Chair for Ethics and Applied Ethics (held by Prof. Dr. Angela Kallhoff). My current research is concerned with practical wisdom and practical deliberation in relation to moral demands as well as agent-relative well-being. I also teach classes for BA-students in ethics (applied ethics as well as meta-ethics).

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