The Dennes Room

Event Detail

Thu Nov 19, 2020
4–6 PM
Graduate Research Colloquium
Dan Khokhar
Requests and Relationships

For Zoom link and handout, please write: jmgroome@berkeley.edu

There are many ways you can get me to do something. You can explain why doing it would further my own interests; you can threaten me; and you can order me (assuming I think you have some kind of authority). But you can also ask me to do it. Now maybe going along would be morally objectionable (e.g. if you ask me to help you bilk a contractor). But quite often, I should grant your request. Suppose we are close friends and you ask me to help fix your computer before an urgent deadline. Even if I’d rather watch a film at home, I should aid you. But what exactly are you doing (qua speech-act) in making this request and why do I have a reason to grant it? I reject the view that requests function primarily by communicating the existence of independently obtaining reasons. Instead, I argue that, in making a successful request, one brings into existence a new reason for one’s target to act as requested. Requests are thereby similar to acts of promise and consent which alter normative reality in a distinctively “direct” way. I then defend a Relational View according to which our possession of the power to request is explained by the valuable role it plays in conducting our interpersonal relationships (e.g. friendship) on terms that realize important interests we have in autonomy and equality.