Seminars 2010

Skepticism and Accidentally True Belief
Thursday, 9th Dec 2010, 4:00 – 6:00pm
Dr Patrick Hawley
Chairperson of Philosophy
The University of Hong Kong

The Anti-Naturalist Turn of Franz Rosenzweig and Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy and their post-Nietzschean Religious Philosophy
Thursday, 25th Nov 2010, 4:00 – 6:00pm
Dr Wayne Cristaudo
Division Head West Studies
School of Modern Languages and Cultures
The University of Hong Kong

Emotion and Agency in Zhuangzi
Thursday, 11th Nov 2010, 4:00 – 6:00pm
Dr Chris Fraser
The University of Hong Kong

Value, Motivation and Reason: A Reductio of Rationalism
Thursday, 28th Oct 2010, 4:00 – 6:00pm
Dr Norva Lo
La Trobe University

Counterfactuals and the argument for possible worlds from theoretical virtue
Thursday, 14th Oct 2010, 4:00 – 6:00pm
Dr Dan Marshall
Society of Scholars Fellow
The University of Hong Kong

The Reductionist’s Troubles with Moral Explanation
Tuesday, 12th Oct 2010, 9:15 - 10:45am **NOTE SPECIAL TIME**
Dr Lei Zhong
Peking University

Locke's Principle is an Applicable Principle of Identity
Thursday, 7th Oct 2010, 4:00 – 6:00pm
Dr Rafael De Clercq
Lingnan University

Utilitarianism, contractualism, and symmetric aggregation
Tuesday, 5th Oct 2010, 9:30-11:00am **NOTE SPECIAL TIME**
Dr David McCarthy
University of Edinburgh

The Wrong Kind of Reasoning
Wednesday, 29th Sept 2010, 9:30-11:00am **NOTE SPECIAL TIME**
Dr. Noell Birondo
Augustana College

What is a Dispositif? Deleuze and Cinema

Joint Philosophy & Comparative Literature Seminar:
MONDAY May 31st 5:00 – 6:30pm
Venue: ROOM 205, Main Building
Professor John Rajchman
Columbia University, New York

The Origin of Goodness in Xunzi

Thursday May 6th 4:00 – 6:00pm
Professor Chenyang Li
Central Washington University

Skepticism and Value in the Zhuangzi

Thursday April 15th 4:00 – 6:00pm
Dr Chris Fraser
University of Hong Kong

What is the use of studying philosophy if it does not improve your thinking about the important questions of everyday life?

Wittgenstein and Political Philosophy
FRIDAY, March 26th, 4:00 – 6:00pm
Professor Hans Sluga
University of California

Xunzi's Moral Psychology

Thursday March 25th 4:00 – 6:00pm
Dr Siu-fu Tang
The University of Hong Kong


Thursday March 11th 4:00 – 6:00pm
Professor Carl Ginet
Cornell University

Responding to Fiction

Thursday Feb 25th 4:00 – 6:00pm
Professor Robert Stecker
Central Michigan University
Visiting Fulbright Scholar, Lingnan University


Knowing Yourself, and Giving up on Your Own Agency

Thursday Feb 11th 4:00 – 6:00pm

Dr. Derek Baker, Lingnan University


You know that you’ll act badly when placed in a certain situation, not because you are compulsive—you could resist temptation if you really tried—but because you’ve been in this sort of situation before, and when you’re in it you don’t try to resist. So you should avoid the situation. That seems obvious. But what about cases in which doing something bad now is the only way to avoid a temptation to do something worse later? You could resist that temptation, but it’s reasonable for you to think that you won’t. Perhaps you should choose the lesser evil now. The alternative, after all, can seem unacceptably risky. On the other hand, regarding your future choices as risks seems like a failure to acknowledge your own agency. Committing the future evil later isn’t simply a likely outcome of trying to do good now, it’s something you have immediate control over.

We find ourselves stuck with the following inconsistent triad:

1. Facts about your own psychology can change what you have most moral reason to do, even if these facts do not undermine your freedom. 2. If you have most moral reason to X, you are morally justified in Xing; if you have most moral reason to X, Xing is a morally right action. 3. A vice (a morally bad psychological disposition which does not undermine freedom) cannot provide a justification for performing an otherwise morally unjustified action; a vice cannot make an otherwise wrong action right.

There is no obvious resolution to this triad.

Do philosophers have expert intuitions?

Prof. Stephen Clarke, Oxford University


Philosophers make frequent appeals to intuitions. Many of these appeals are to intuitions as a source of evidence. The credibility of intuitions as a possible source of evidence has come under attack in recent years by some members of the experimental philosophy movement, who have produced evidence that ordinary intuitions about philosophical issues can vary significantly in response to cultural background, educational level, variations in affective states and the order of presentation of thought experiments. All of these are factors that appear to be philosophically irrelevant, so it seems hard to square these findings with the claim that ordinary intuitions are plausible candidates to provide a reliable basis for philosophical claims.

In this paper I examine one influential line of response to the challenge to ordinary intuitions about philosophical issues presented by experimental philosophers. This is the response that Alexander and Weinberg refer to as ‘Intuition elitism’. It involves denying that studies of ordinary intuition are relevant to philosophical claims and arguing that the considered intuitions of professional philosophers are the evidential source that philosophers implicitly appeal to (and should appeal to) when they deploy intuitions as an evidential source.

I consider this line of argument from three angles. First, I ask whether it plausibly accounts for our practices when we appeal to intuitions as an evidential source in philosophy. Second, I ask whether this argumentative move genuinely relieves those who employ it from the onus of responding to experimental philosophers’ findings about biases that affect ordinary intuitions. Third, I consider empirical research on the intuitions of other professionals to see if lessons can be learned about the suitability of philosophy as a context for the generation of reliable intuitions and about the reliability of the intuitions of professional philosophers.

  • Room 305 Main Building
  • Queries: Dr Max Deutsch