Philosophy 290-5

Spring 2016

Number Title Instructor Days/time Room
290-5 Graduate Seminar: Agency, Responsibility, and Context Vargas Tu 4-6 234 Moses

There is a growing body of empirical and philosophical research that suggests that ordinary human agency (including moral dispositions) is profoundly affected by the structural, material, and social conditions in which agents operate. The aspiration of this seminar is to think carefully about the implications of this idea. If our moral dispositions and agential capacities aren’t just features of individual agents considered in themselves, but features of agents in contexts, this has consequences for a range of issues in moral psychology, the theory of moral responsibility, and political and legal philosophy. So, we’ll be looking at questions of blame, culpability, norm adoption, and egalitarianism in light of these and related ideas. We’ll also be considering what obligations we may have for shaping our contexts of action in light of findings about the “ecological” nature of human beings. Readings will draw from work moral psychology, ethics, decision theory, the history of philosophy, philosophy of action, and political philosophy. The seminar will start with recent work by John Doris and the instructor. Other readings may include selections from Bichierri, Hacking, McGeer, Pettit, Pippin, and Scheffler, as well as works in the social sciences, and feminist and critical theory approaches to agency.