“The Accrual of Reasons: Some First Thoughts” by Shyam Nair (Mar 12)

A popular idea in moral philosophy is that facts about what we ought to do are explained by facts about what we have reason to do. The idea is that in standard choice situations there are are often considerations in favor of some act x as well as considerations in favor of an incompatible act y. The act that ought to be done is the act that “wins in the competition among reasons”. In recent years, much progress has been made in moral philosophy, epistemology, and philosophical logic toward understanding the different ways reasons can “win out” and understanding how to precisely and non-metaphorically describe the mechanics of this “winning out” process.

But there are certain simple cases that are still not well understood. For example, sometimes we can have two reasons to do x and one reason to do y. And it can happen that each of the reasons to do x is individually worse than the reason to do y but somehow together the strengths of the individual reasons to do x “add up” to make x the thing that ought to be done. The main aim of this talk is to explain why it is challenging to understand these cases and to present some conjectures about how to meet this challenge. Throughout the talk, we will adopt a general perspective that considers not only the kinds of cases with this structure that arise in moral philosophy but also the kinds of cases with this structure that arise in epistemology.

Philosophy Seminar Series
Date: Thursday, 12 Mar 2015
Time: 2pm – 4pm
Venue: AS3 #05-23
Speaker: Shyam Nair, Lingnan University
Moderator: Dr. Qu Hsueh Ming

About the Speaker:

Picture1Shyam Nair is an assistant professor of philosophy at Lingnan University. His research concerns issues in moral philosophy, epistemology, and philosophical logic. Before coming to Lingnan, he completed his PhD at the University of Southern California.

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