Hesperus is Bosphorus

A group blog by philosophers in and from Turkey

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Thomas Schmidt’s talk on Oct 7, Monday in John Freely 507 at 17h

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“Moral Obligation, Moral Reasons, and Supererogation”

Thomas Schmidt, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Sometimes, an action has something morally in its favour, but it is not morally required since an alternative action is favoured by moral considerations that have, in the context, a greater normative weight. Cases of this sort suggest that it is one thing for an action to be favoured by a moral consideration, or reason, and quite another for it to be morally required, or obligatory. In view of this, it makes sense to ask how moral reasons and moral obligations are related to one another. In my talk, I suggest and defend an answer to this question.
More specifically, I show that there is an initially plausible and theoretically defensible way of explaining moral obligations in terms of moral (and other) reasons, i.e. of complementing the following scheme:

There is a moral obligation to  if, and only if (and because), … [moral (and other) reasons].

As has been observed by several authors, the key to accomplishing this task is to make appropriate room for the possibility of supererogation. I argue that the view that I propose does this in a particularly promising way: it turns out to be not only consistent with the possibility of supererogation, but to entail a plausible general account of what makes an action supererogatory in the first place. Moreover, it can be shown to entail an attractive view about how deontic moral categories and all-things-considered categories are related to one another.

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September 27, 2019 at 5:55 pm

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Panos Eliopoulos’ talk on August 2, Friday in John Freely 507 (BU) at 17h

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Panos Eliopoulos, PhD, Lecturer, University of Ioannina- Greece
NOTIONS OF NON-VIOLENCE IN ROMAN STOICISM; Abstract: In the moral philosophy of the late Stoa, there is a significant turn to the recognition of values of non violence. Starting from the point where the philosophers of the Ancient and the Middle Stoa acknowledge man’s relation with the Cosmos and with each human being separately due to Logos, some of the most prominent Stoics of the Roman period (namely Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, but even Cicero who fosters many of the earlier Stoic ethical views, despite his attachment to the doctrines of the Academy) enrich the content of this theorization by offering an expansion of the concept of the Greek “philanthropy”. Through the practical means of individual correction, which leads to the therapy of passions, the Stoic sage returns to society in order to emancipate the human being and to ensure that man will recover his ontological worth, his “dignitas”. Moral repercussions are only part of this change of emphasis in the Stoic dogma; there are certain political insinuations that confront the role of the individual in the political system of the epoch. This effort is grounded on benevolent and mild action, which aims to correct rather than to discipline both individual and collective ways of being. It is this particular contribution of theirs in the history of philosophy that I aim to discuss in connection with issues directly related with a non violent, eudaimonistic way of life in the context of social peace.

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July 27, 2019 at 12:41 pm

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Kant workshop on May 24, Friday in Bogazici University (second update)

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14:00 Anita Leirfal (University of Bergen), “On the perception of forces: Some Kantian reflections”

15:30 Lucas Thorpe (BU), “Kant on character and calculus”

17:00 Ken Westphal (BU), Kant’s Two Models of Human Actions;

The talks will be in John Freely 507. Everyone welcome.

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May 22, 2019 at 8:13 am

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Walter Veit’s talk in Bogazici

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“From Scaffolding to Natural Selection”; May 23, Thursday at 17h; John Freely Building Room #’s 507 and 508; Abstract: Darwin provided us with a powerful tool to explain the evolution of living systems: the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection. Traditional approaches, however, merely relying on natural selection have proven insufficient to explain the emergence of new levels of selection, i.e. the major transitions. The problem is one of circularity for evolutionary explanations: how to explain the evolution of Darwinian properties without already invoking them at level they are supposed to emerge. Recent advances in experimental evolution suggest a way forward: Rainey et al. (2017) argue that Darwinian properties could be exogenously imposed via ecological scaffolding allowing natural selection to commence. This could solve the ‘black box’ dilemma faced by Darwinian explanations relying on natural selection. However, despite scaffolding recently becoming a popular theme in the study of cognition, culture and evolution, the concept has suffered from vagueness and ambiguity. In this paper, I develop scaffolding from a mere metaphor used in a vague sense of environmental support into a proper scientific concept able to do explanatory work. In doing so, I introduce a much needed distinction between what I call evolutionary scaffolding and developmental scaffolding that has not been recognized in the literature, analysing the significance of scaffolding for evolutionary biology.

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May 21, 2019 at 2:31 pm

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Paul Hoynigen-Hüne will give a talk on May 17, Friday at 17h in John Freely Building 507+508 (Bogazici University)

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Paul Hoynigen-Hüne; ‘The human sciences between quantification and hermeneutics’; Abstract-Abstract: I begin by a clarifying the terms “quantitative” and “qualitative”, which appear to characterize the contrast between the main approaches to the human sciences. I then present a framework, within which the question of the appropriate procedures in the human sciences
can be described and evaluated; it is systematicity theory (see P. Hoyningen Huene: Systematicity, OUP 2013). First, I discuss the aims of quantification, and its possible application in the human sciences. Second, I discuss the “counter-program” of hermeneutics, in which the notion of “understanding [verstehen] of meaning” plays a central role. I shall argue that understanding, in a specified sense, is indeed essential to the human sciences, especially in our attempts to make sense of actions. The result will be this. Also in the human sciences, quantification is attractive because it strongly supports the defense of knowledge claims, i.e. the scientific status of the human sciences. On the other hand, the core concept of the human sciences, meaning, so far completely resists quantification. This is a tension that the human sciences will have to face for some time to come.

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May 13, 2019 at 2:01 pm

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Hanna Read and Rafael Ventura will give a joint talk on April 26, Friday at 17h in JF507 (Bogazici)

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Hanna Read and Rafael Ventura (both from Bilkent University) “Signaling Polarization” ABSTRACT: Most accounts of the harm done by derogatory terms focus on the targets of derogation. In this paper, we argue that some forms of derogatory speech harm not only the targets of derogation, but also their users. By signaling lack of cooperation, derogatory language hinders communication. This deteriorates communication across the entire community, which has practically, epistemically, and morally harmful consequences.

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April 18, 2019 at 1:03 pm

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Two talks on April 12, Friday at Bogazici

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“Moral Certainty in the Light of Wittgenstein”
Ryan Manhire, Åbo Akademi, Finland and Flinders University, Australia
April 12, Friday at 15:00 JF 507

“Ethical Commitment Between Political Theory and Social Science”
Dr Campbell, Centre for Ethics as Study in Human Value, Czech Republic
April 12, Friday at 17:00 JF 507

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April 11, 2019 at 8:00 am

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