Photo by H. Cartier-Bresson of two children rolling a wheel.
Henri Cartier-Bresson. 1971. Italy, Sicily, Palermo (Magnum Photos).

 

 

Here is the schedule for the ERC research seminar, which runs from January to March 2020. The seminar will be led by Professor John Hyman and Professor Maria Alvarez (KCL). We will meet on Tuesdays, from 16.00 to 18.00, in the Seminar Room (102), Department of Philosophy, UCL (19 Gordon Square). Notifications for individual meetings will appear in the Events section. This is a graduate seminar (PHIL0174), which may be taken for credit, but others (at UCL, KCL or elsewhere) are welcome to attend. If you are not a member of UCL or KCL but would like to attend, please let us know.

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Dates, topics, and target readings

Introductory Readings

  • Hyman, John. 2015. Action, Knowledge, and Will. Oxford UP. Ch. 1 “Agency and the Will” & “Appendix: The Modern Theory of the Will.” 
  • Hart, H. L. A. 2008 (1967). “Postscript: Responsibility and Retribution.” In Punishment and Responsibility (2nd edn.; Oxford UP).

[1] Tuesday 14 January. Agency

  • Questions: What is an act? Is an act a bodily movement? Is every act intentional? 
  • Readings:
    • Hyman, John. 2015. Action, Knowledge, and Will. Oxford UP. Ch. 2 “Action and Integration”.
    • Frankfurt, Harry G. 1978. “The problem of action.” American Philosophical Quarterly 15. Repr. in The Importance of What We Care About: Philosophical Essays (Cambridge UP, 1998).

[2] Tuesday 21 January. Intentional action

  • Questions: “What distinguishes actions which are intentional from those which are not?” (Anscombe, Intention §5) 
  • Readings: 
    • Anscombe, G. E. M. 1963. Intention. 2nd ed. Harvard UP. §§5–6, 8, 16–17, (19), 25, (27), 45–48.
    • Kenny, Anthony. 1975. Will, Freedom, and Power. Blackwell. Ch. 4, “Voluntariness and intentionality.”

[3] Tuesday 28 January. Voluntary action

  • Questions: What distinguishes acts which are voluntary from those which are not? Is there such a thing as voluntary passivity? Are all intentional actts voluntary? And vice-versa? 
  • Readings:
    • Hyman, John. 2015. Action, Knowledge, and Will. Oxford UP. Ch. 4 “Voluntariness and Choice.”
    • Ryle, Gilbert. 1949. The Concept of Mind. Hutchinson. Ch. 3 “The Will.”

[4] Tuesday 4 February. The act requirement

  • Questions: Does criminal responsibility depend on the performance of a voluntary act? What is a voluntary act, in the relevant sense? Is there a convincing rationale for the requirement?
  • Readings:
    • Moore, Michael S. 1993. Act and Crime. Oxford UP. Ch. 1 “Introduction” and ch. 2 “The Doctrinal Unity of the Act Requirement.”
    • Yaffe, Gideon. 2012. “The Voluntary Act Requirement.” In The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Law (ed. Andrei Marmor; Routledge), 174–90.

[5] Tuesday 11 February. The doctrine of double effect

  • Questions: What is the relationship between intending and foreseeing? What moral or legal significance does the distinction between them have?
  • Readings:
    • McMahan, Jeff. 2009. “Intention, Permissibility, Terrorism, and War.” Philosophical Perspectives 23: 345–72. 
    • Foot, Philippa. 1967. “The Problem of Abortion and the Doctrine of the Double Effect.” Oxford Review 5. Repr. as ch. 2 in her Virtues and Vices and Other Essays in Moral Philosophy (Clarendon, 2002).

[There will be no meeting on Tuesday 18 February, as this is during the UCL reading week.]

[6] Tuesday 25 February. Responsiveness to reasons

  • Questions: Does moral responsibility depend on the availability of alternative possible courses of action? What is the connection between rationality and responsibility?
  • Readings:
    • Wolf, Susan. 1987. “Sanity and the Metaphysics of Responsibility.” In Responsibility, Character, and the Emotions: New Essays in Moral Psychology (ed. Ferdinand Schoeman; Cambridge UP), 46–62. 
    • Frankfurt, Harry G. 1971. “Freedom of the will and the concept of a person.” Journal of Philosophy 68: 5–20. Repr. in The Importance of What We Care About: Philosophical Essays (Cambridge UP, 1998).

[7] Tuesday 3 March. Responsibility for attitudes

  • Questions: Can I be morally responsible for my psychological states or attitudes, if they cannot be acquired voluntarily? What about my emotions and my character?
  • Readings:
    • Smith, Angela M. 2005. “Responsibility for Attitudes: Activity and Passivity in Mental Life.” Ethics 115: 236–71.
    • Baier, Annette. 1985. Postures of the Mind: Essays on Mind and Morals. U. Minnesota. Ch. 7 “Actions, Passions, and Reasons.”

[8] Tuesday 10 March. Justifications and excuses

  • Questions: How are justification and excuse related to each other? Is one concept more basic than the other? How do they exculpate, or mitigate culpability?
  • Readings: 
    • Gardner, John. 1998. “The gist of excuses.” Buffalo Criminal Law Review 1 (575). Repr. in Offences and Defences: Selected Essays in the Philosophy of Criminal Law (Oxford UP, 2007).
    • Austin, J. L. 1956–7. “A Plea for Excuses.” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 57: 1–30. Repr. in Philosophical Papers (3rd edn.; eds. J. O. Urmson and G. J. Warnock; Oxford UP, 1979).

[9] Tuesday 17 March. Varieties of responsibility

  • Questions: What kinds of responsibility are worth distinguishing? How are they related to each other, and how are they related to causation?
  • Readings:
    • Shoemaker, David. 2011. “Attributability, Answerability, and Accountability. Toward a Wider Theory of Moral Responsibility.” Ethics 121: 602–32. 
    • Strawson, P. F. 1962. “Freedom and Resentment.” Proceedings of the British Academy 48: 1–25. Repr. in Freedom and Resentment and Other Essays (Routledge, 2008).

[10] Tuesday 24 March. Responsibility and liability

  • Questions: What is the relationship between responsibility and liability? Is moral responsibility always or normally “strict”? Does Duff’s distinction between responsibility and liability have any bearing on traditional philosophical problems about moral responsibility?
  • Readings: 
    • Duff, R. A. 2007. Answering for Crime: Responsibility and Liability in the Criminal Law. Hart. Ch. 1 “Responsibility and Liability.”
    • Hart, H. L. A. 2008 (1967). “Postscript: Responsibility and Retribution.” In Punishment and Responsibility (2nd edn.; Oxford UP). 

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