Abstract: My talk takes as a starting point a contemporary class of arguments in metaphysics and ethics, manipulation arguments, to illuminate several important issues of agency and responsibility. Manipulation arguments exploit what is thought to be a common intuition about the responsibility-undermining feature of cases of manipulation to argue against compatibilism, the thesis that free will and moral responsibility are compatible with determinism. These arguments contend that some manipulated agents satisfy compatibilist conditions for free will and moral responsibility and further that any move that seeks to deny that the manipulated agent is acting freely will entail that no determined agents act freely. This class of arguments has received considerable attention in recent years and compatibilists have provided a variety of defenses of compatibilism against these arguments. The aim of this talk is to draw upon this past work to advance theses about broader conditions for free agency and blame. I argue that attending to the responsibility-undermining features of such cases can aid in the development of excusing and mitigating conditions for responsibility and blameworthiness and help us clarify more generally who has the standing to blame wrongdoers.
Dr. Kevin McCain gave his Big Idea Talk, "Reasonable People Can Disagree... Can't They?" on February 12 at 6:00 p.m. at the Spencer Honors House.
The UAB Philosophy Department will lead public discussions on life's big questions. For each discussion a member of the UAB Philosophy Department will give a 15 minute presentation of the topic. Afterwards, there will be an open discussion for 45 - 60 minutes. Everyone is welcome!
Please contact Dr. Kevin McCain (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any questions.
Click here to see the Big Idea Talks Schedule for 2014 - 2015.
Abstract: I defend ethical hedonism by arguing that it offers the only answer to an argument for moral skepticism. The skeptical argument arises from the breadth of fundamental moral disagreement, which entails the presence of enough moral error to undermine the reliability of most processes by which we form moral beliefs. The hedonist response is that we know that pleasure is good through phenomenal introspection, the only process we can know to be reliable in producing true moral belief. If the skeptical argument can only be answered by the hedonist response, we must accept that pleasure is good and give up all our other moral beliefs.
Bio: Neil Sinhababu is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the National University of Singapore. His work on the role of desire in motivation and deliberation has appeared in journals including Philosophical Review and Nous. His most famous paper, Possible Girls, is about how to have romantic relationships with people in other universes. He received his Ph.D from the University of Texas at Austin and his B.A. from Harvard University.
Read the Spring 2015 Philosophy Newsletter to find out about the exciting things going on in the UAB Department of Philosophy!
Fall 2014 Philosophy Newsletter
Fall 2012 Philosophy Newsletter
Some students, alumni, and even faculty from the Philosophy Department have written op-ed essays that have been published in al.com. These op-eds can be found in Philosophy Op-Ed Essays.
Kevin McCain published Evidentialism and Epistemic Justification with Routledge, is co-writing A Critical Introduction to Justification, and with Oxford University Press, is co-editing Best Explanations: New Essays on Inference to the Best Explanation. He also lectured in Pensacola, Memphis and Georgia. Josh May lectured on ethics and moral psychology in Hungary, Australia, Washington, DC, Mississippi, New York, and South Carolina and published in several journals, including the American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience. Matt King published in Philosophical Studies and European Journal of Philosophy, presented at the Rocky Mountain Ethics Congress and the Alabama Philosophical Society, and spoke at Ole Miss and Yale Law School. Newly tenured Marshall Abrams talked at the American Philosophical Association in 2014, at associations for philosophy of science, formal philosophy, and anthropology, and published in Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Philosophy of Science, Complex Adaptive Systems Modeling, and in a volume on environments and organisms