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August Gorman (Princeton) – Against Ideal Agency (NeuroEpigenEthics ERC project)

28 May 2021, 3:00 PM5:00 PM CEST

Practicalities: Friday 28th May 15:00-17:00 CET – online, register via mailto: emma.moormann@uantwerpen.be to receive the Zoom details. 

Against Ideal Agency

Abstract: An implicit assumption in many current debates in the moral responsibility literature is that there is a value-neutral way of identifying a group of agents upon which we can base our assumptions about responsible agency. In reality, the methodology that philosophers often use to identify the capacities possessed by responsible agents is to infer from an intuitive verdict that a neurodivergent person should not be blamed in a particular circumstance that they lack a crucial capacity of agency that responsible agents must have. In this talk I attempt to debunk this way of thinking by showing how it has arisen from decontextualized sympathy towards mental difference in lieu of genuine understanding. I identify several shortfalls of this paradigm of exemption as the explanation for why we ought to sometimes mitigate our blame towards someone when their wrongdoing has come about due to their neurodivergence. I suggest instead that we sometimes ought to alter or mitigate our blame because of the undue burdens of navigating the interpersonal world with a brain that functions outside the paradigm of the currently conventional norms. 

Bio: August Gorman is a Values and Public Policy Postdoctoral Fellow at Princeton University co-appointed in the Center for Human Values and the Center for Health and Wellbeing. Their work focuses on how traditional debates about agency, moral responsibility, well-being, and consent intersect with neurodivergent experiences and the lived realities of psychological disability. 


– lecture dr. August Gorman: approx. 45′
– responses Prof. Katrien Schaubroeck, Emma Moormann, Jo Bervoets: approx. 45′
– open Q&A: approx 30′

Organized by: NeuroEpigenEthics ERC project, check out other interdisciplinary lecture recordings on the NeuroEpigenEthics Youtube channel

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