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Velleman's Constructivism

Velleman's Constructivism
15 Devonshire Place, Room 200
Time: Jan 30th, 3:00 pm End: Jan 30th, 5:00 pm
Interest Categories: Religion, Study of (FAS), Philosophy (UTSC), Philosophy (UTM), Philosophy (FAS), Ethics, 2000-
Lecture by Philip Clark, University of Toronto

The Centre for Ethics is pleased to present:

Philip Clark, Department of Philosophy, University of Toronto
 
Velleman’s Constructivism

 
Monday, January 30, 2012, 3:00 – 5:00 pm
Room 200, Centre for Ethics, Larkin Building, 15 Devonshire Place
 
The event is free & open to the public
 
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Abstract

In recent work,[1] David Velleman pursues a version of what Bernard Williams calls the Kantian strategy.  The point of this strategy, Velleman says, is to “account for the objectivity of morality without positing a normative reality of which judgments of right and wrong can be true.”  To this end, Velleman tries to explain how the demands of practical reason can have a kind of objectivity even if there is no normative reality of which reason judgments can be true.  The key is to recognize that while all reasons rest on motives that are present in those for whom they are reasons, some reasons rest only on motives that are necessarily shared by all who are subject to reasons.  He thinks this is particularly clear in the case of reasons for belief, and extends the point to reasons for action.  In this paper I argue that Velleman’s theory of reasons, even if it is true, fails to support the hypothesis that there is some one motive that is necessarily shared by all those who are subject to reasons for belief, and likewise fails to support the hypothesis that there is some one motive that is necessarily shared by all those who are subject to reasons for action.  To make good on his Kantian strategy, Velleman must establish the hypothesis in some other way.
 
[1] J David Velleman, How We Get Along (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), esp. Chapter 5, and The Possibility of Practical Reason (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), Chapters 8 and 11.
 
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