Philosophy Society visiting speaker: Dr Richard Rowland

Our first visiting speaker event this term is a meeting of the Philosophy Society, for a talk by Dr Richard Rowland (Australian Catholic University). Richard completed his PhD at Reading in 2013. Details below. All are welcome.
2-4pm on Thursday 28th September (Week 1) in Chancellor’s G12 
 
Skepticism about Blameworthiness: Normative not Metaphysical
This paper argues that although there are non-instrumental reasons to have pro-attitudes and certain con-attitudes there are no non-instrumental reasons to blame; call this view No Reason. If No Reason is correct, then although some people are admirable and praiseworthy and some things are desirable and others undesirable, no one is blameworthy. This paper’s argument for No Reason provides a normative case for skepticism about blameworthiness rather than providing what we might call a metaphysical case for skepticism about blameworthiness deriving from skepticism about free will. Accordingly this normative case for skepticism about blameworthiness avoids the problems faced by skepticism about blameworthiness that derives from skepticism about free will. The idea that a non-metaphysically based, normative or evaluative, case for skepticism about blameworthiness might be made is in the air in the recent literature on blame. But such a non-metaphysically-based case for skepticism about blameworthiness has not been made. This paper makes such a case. This paper argues that there is a non-instrumental reason to have a token of attitude type T only if it is sometimes non-instrumentally better to have a token attitude of type T. But it is never non-instrumentally better to blame others than to not blame others. So, there are no non-instrumental reasons to blame. However, A is ϕ-worthy or ϕ-able only if there are non-instrumental reasons to ϕ in response to A. So, given that there are no non-instrumental reasons to blame, no one is blameworthy.
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