Seminar series

PROFOUND seminar series


The PROFOUND project is running a seminar seires during their stay at the Centre. 

Every other week, fellows and colleagues meet up at CAS to listen to talks held by their peers. 

All segments of the series will mainly be held on Thursdays, and mainly in the Turret room at CAS. But please see the specific segment for any deviations.

Speaker, title, and abstract for each segment will be announced below.

Past segments

Demarcating Moral Reasons through Practicing Grief

Held by Ying Yao, Department of Philosophy, University of Oslo.

In this presentation, I examine how grief, when evoked as a proactive practice through envisioning hypothetical losses (such as the death of another subject, the termination of a relationship, or the irrecoverable deterioration of one’s living environment, etc.), calibrates ethical discernment and conduces moral progress. Proactive grief confronts an individual with the contingency and vulnerability inherent in actions, subjects, and relationships. In so doing, it reveals moral significances that are intertemporal (discovered only retrospectively yet projected forward), modalized (predicated on potential rather than actuality), and interpersonal (dependent on the perspectives of subjects) — features that distinguish moral considerations. Proactive grief hence grants epistemic insight into moral reasons in situations where prudential concerns might eclipse them, and provides motivational access towards moral ideals, which are often obscured by personal biases and egoistic concerns when one's viewpoint is limited to the present, the actual, and the personal.

Does AI Design Rest on a Mistake?

Held by professor Ruth Chang, University of Oxford.

Two notorious problems plague the development of technology, the alignment and control problems. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested in trying to solve them, but technologists, it is fair to say, have made little progress. Might philosophers help? In this talk, I sketch a conceptual framework for thinking about technological design that has its roots in philosophical study of values and normativity. This alternative framework puts humans in the loop right where they belong, namely, in 'hard cases'. This framework may go some way in solving both the alignment and control problems.

The Zombie Argument for Hedonism

Held by Ivar Labukt, Institute of Philosophy, UiT The Arctic University of Norway.

PROFOUND seminar: Title TBA

Held by David Copp, Philosophy Department, University of California, Davis.

Natural Normativity: An Aristotelian Account of Reasons

Held by Paal F. S. Kvarberg, Department of Philosophy, University of Oslo.

What Was Plato’s View of Sidgwick’s Dualism?

Held by Andrew Reisner, Department of Philosophy, Uppsala University.

Title TBA

Held by Sarah Stroud, Philosophy Department, University of North Carolina.

Buridan’s Buck-Passing Account of Goodness

Held by Frans Svensson, Department of Philosophy, University of Gothenburg.

Welfarist pluralism, reasons, and reasons for belief

Held by Andrew Reisner, Department of Philosophy, Uppsala University.

– This talk draws on material from a book I’m working on, A new theory of reasons for belief: pragmatic foundations and pluralistic reasons (under contract with OUP). The talk presents an account of what normative reasons are and what it is for a normative reason to have a weight. I argue that this account, grafted onto the welfare pluralist theory of reasons for belief, does at least a fairly good job of explaining why and how pragmatic and alethic (epistemic) reasons for belief can be compared. I conclude with a brief discussion of why the dualism of practical reason raises further challenges for an account of this kind.

Normative pluralism and complex decisions

Held by Fredrik Nyseth, senior lecturer at UiT The Arctic University of Norway.

– I will explore a possible worry for normative pluralism, understood along the lines of Sagdahl’s book. The worry is that when we ask whether a course of action is rationally eligible/permissible, the answer might depend, in certain cases, on seemingly arbitrary decisions about how choices are conceptualized and individuated. Investigating this worry will lead me to consider two further questions: 1) What can the pluralist say about how we ought to reason when we are faced with sequences of dependent choices? 2) What can the pluralist say about “decisions under risk”? An emerging theme, in these investigations, will be that it is somewhat difficult for the pluralist to resist the idea that there is a coherent third normative standpoint. Although this standpoint does not bring in any concerns in addition to those of prudence and morality, it yields verdicts that are distinct from both.

Fundamental Normative Authority

Held by Joshua Gert, professor at the College of William & Mary.

I argue that the primary source of difficulties in characterizing fundamental normative authority is that the job-description of the fundamental normative system has been consistently mischaracterized.  The primary function of normative systems is not to tell us how we ought to behave. Rather, it is, more modestly, to place limits.  While normative systems generally – including the fundamental normative system – function as limit-placers on the choices of agents, what is distinctive about the fundamental normative system is that it also functions as a limit-placer on other normative systems.  My route into the issue of fundamental normative authority is via an ongoing debate between normative monists and normative pluralists.  Both sides share, fairly explicitly, a number of assumptions that obscure the notion of fundamental normative authority.  Once those assumptions are exposed as questionable, room is made for the limit-placing characterization I offer.  I will also defend the idea that there is a normative notion – I call it ‘practical rationality’ – that is fundamental. 

Shifting Scope: Accounting for Instrumental Rationality

Held by Caj Strandberg, professor at the University of Oslo (UiO).

In the talk, I will try to develop a model of instrumental rationality: There is a general concept of instrumental rationality that is instantiated in two aspects which differ with regard to scope and coherence. Thus, rather than constituting competing accounts of the concept of instrumental rationality, they make up two instances of the same concept. The ‘primary aspect’ applies only to cases where an agent has reason to do what she intends to do, and conforms to a narrow-scope requirement. The ‘secondary aspect’ applies also to cases where an agent does not have reason to do what she intends to do, and conforms to a wide-scope requirement. At the end, I will briefly apply the model to a structure-based view of instrumental rationality.

Pleasure Fundamentalism

Held by Neil Sinhababu, associate professor at the National University of Singapore.

Pleasure fundamentalism is the view that moral value is the same thing as pleasure, and that their sameness explains all other moral facts. This talk presents two arguments for pleasure fundamentalism and discusses the form of naturalism they arise from. According to the Reliability Argument, all processes generating moral belief are unreliable, except for phenomenal introspection which tells us that pleasure is good. According to the Universality Argument, pleasure is universal moral value, because of its qualitative identity with the pleasure in the minds of all possible perceivers of moral value. Both arguments are available within an Einsteinian naturalism combining empiricism with a spacetime ontology, and avoiding behaviorism in favor of a more Humean psychology.

PROFOUND seminar: Title TBA

Held by David Sobel, Irwin and Marjorie Guttag Professor at Syracuse University.

PROFOUND seminar: Title TBA

Held by Sarah Stroud, professor at the University of North Carolina.

PROFOUND seminar: Title TBA

Held by Attila Tanyi, professor at UiT The Arctic University of Norway.

PROFOUND seminar: Title TBA

Held by Vuko Andrić, associate professor at Linköping University.