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January 2023

Polaris Koi (University of Turku): ‘What are my options?’

25 January 2023, 4:30 pm6:00 pm
LAK 2.06, Lakatos Building
London, WC2A 2AE United Kingdom
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Abstract: This paper seeks to understand decision set constituents, that is, options. When agents form intentions and make choices, the intending and choosing is only meaningful because the agent is selecting from a set of options. In much theorizing about intending, choosing and acting, including philosophical approaches to neuroscience and free will as well as decision theory, the presence of a…

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March 2023

Fabienne Peter (University of Warwick): On trusting your own political judgment

8 March 2023, 4:30 pm6:00 pm
LAK 2.06, Lakatos Building
London, WC2A 2AE United Kingdom
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Abstract: A standard view in political philosophy holds that citizens are entitled to trust their own political judgment and that they thus can’t be required to politically defer to others. The entitlement for political self-trust appears to be well-supported on political, moral, and epistemic grounds. Yet, contemporary political debate appears to be hampered by too much political self-trust. Excessive political self-trust…

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Gerard Rothfus (UNC Chapel Hill): ‘Dignity and Uncertainty’

22 March 2023, 5:00 pm6:30 pm
Online via Zoom + Google Map

Abstract: The application of deontological moral principles in contexts of factual uncertainty has received increased attention within moral philosophy in recent years. While consequentialist reasoning is thought to be easily extendable to such contexts via standard decision theory, there is less consensus regarding how deontologists should approach moral deliberation when potentially relevant empirical facts are unknown. This talk surveys some…

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Daniel Hoek (Virginia Tech): ‘The Trouble with Belief Fragmentation, Or: Why You Can’t Steer By an Atlas’

29 March 2023, 4:30 pm6:00 pm
LAK 2.06, Lakatos Building
London, WC2A 2AE United Kingdom
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Abstract: According to fragmentation theories of belief, our decision making is guided by a multiplicity of independent, compartmentalized belief states. In this paper, I raise a challenge to this increasingly popular view, arguing that the purported benefits of fragmentation come at the cost of abandoning some of the central explanatory roles of belief. This is not a price worth paying. Adequately addressing this challenge,…

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May 2023

Jussi Suikkanen (University of Birmingham): ‘Act- and Rule-Consequentialism – Two Syntheses’

24 May 2023, 4:30 pm6:00 pm
LAK 2.06, Lakatos Building
London, WC2A 2AE United Kingdom
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Abstract: As an indirect ethical theory, rule-consequentialism first evaluates moral codes in terms of how good the consequences of their general adoption are and then individual actions in terms of whether the optimific code authorises them or not. There are three well-known and powerful objections to rule-consequentialism’s indirect structure: the ideal world objection, the rule worship objection, and the incoherence objection.…

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Arif Ahmed (University of Cambridge): ‘The point of rationality’

31 May 2023, 5:00 pm6:30 pm
Online via Zoom + Google Map

Abstract: What makes practical rationality a good idea? Hume's answer was that a rational person's means are suited to their ends. If Hume was right (and he was), then the transitivity of preference is not a requirement of rationality. Nor are Sen's principles alpha and beta. But gamma is. Arif Ahmed has been Professor of Philosophy (Grade 12) since October…

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June 2023

Sergio Tenenbaum (University of Toronto): ‘The Hardness of the Practical Might’

7 June 2023, 4:30 pm6:00 pm
LAK 2.06, Lakatos Building
London, WC2A 2AE United Kingdom
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Abstract: Incommensurability is often introduced with the small improvement argument. Options A and B are shown to be incommensurable when it is neither the case that A is preferred to (or better than) B nor that B is preferred to (or better than) A, but a slightly improved version of A (A+) is still not preferred to B. Since A+…

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October 2023

Choice Group Seminar by Jessica Fischer (LMU): ‘Consequentialism and the Separateness of Persons’

4 October 2023, 4:30 pm6:00 pm
LAK 2.06, Lakatos Building
London, WC2A 2AE United Kingdom
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Abstract: It is often said that consequentialism violates the separateness of persons. But what does this mean? Many different interpretations have been offered, and yet the core of the separateness of persons objection remains unclear. This paper explores an alternative interpretation of the separateness of persons objection. Note that consequentialism determines principles of right action by looking at features such as…

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Choice Group Seminar by Todd Karhu (King’s College): Compensatory Liability Without Fault

18 October 2023, 4:30 pm6:00 pm
LAK 2.06, Lakatos Building
London, WC2A 2AE United Kingdom
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Abstract: Some activities, like setting off dynamite or owning wild animals, are typically subject to no-fault or stricttort liability—a person who participates in them can be liable to pay compensation if they wind up harming someone, even if they took every reasonable precaution to protect other people from harm. But for most ordinary activities, fault is a necessary condition for legal liability:…

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Choice Group Seminar by Mike Deigan (Centre of Human Abilities): Against Awareness Agglomeration

25 October 2023, 4:30 pm6:00 pm
LAK 2.06, Lakatos Building
London, WC2A 2AE United Kingdom
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Abstract: Agents sometimes become able to entertain new propositions which they had previously been unable to entertain. Much illuminating work modelling this phenomenon and understanding its normative consequences has been done under the heading of awareness growth. Theorists in this tradition often assume that awareness satisfies an agglomeration axiom: if an agent is aware of p and they are aware of…

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November 2023

Choice Group Seminar by Remco Heesen (LSE Philosophy): Peer Review Errors and the Gender Productivity Gap

8 November 2023, 4:30 pm6:00 pm
LAK 2.06, Lakatos Building
London, WC2A 2AE United Kingdom
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Abstract: The gender productivity gap (GPG) is the phenomenon that in academia, women publish fewer articles than men. A recent proposal highlights women’s expectation of gender bias in peer review – motivating them to put more effort into each article – as a potential explanation. Using a rational choice model in which academics act as credit seekers, I investigate when…

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Choice Group Seminar by Lea Bourguignon (LSE), Milan Mossé (UC Berkeley) and Laura Engel (Universität Hamburg)

15 November 2023, 5:00 pm6:30 pm
LAK 2.06, Lakatos Building
London, WC2A 2AE United Kingdom
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Choice Group Seminar - PhD Edition Talk 1: Lea Bourguignon (LSE) and Milan Mossé (UC Berkeley): 'How to Count Sore Throats' Abstract: Kamm’s sore throat case gives us a choice: save one life, or save a distinct life and cure a sore throat. We defend the ex ante explanation of the judgment that one should flip a coin to decide…

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Joe Horton (UCL): Newcomb Problems and Unstable Decisions

22 November 2023, 4:30 pm6:00 pm
LAK 2.06, Lakatos Building
London, WC2A 2AE United Kingdom
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Abstract: There has recently been a surge of interest in a new kind of decision theory, which we can call Hindsight Decision Theory (HDT). Its proponents include Ralph Wedgwood, J. Dmitri Gallow, Abelard Podgorski, and David James Barnett. They argue that HDT avoids problems with both Evidential Decision Theory (EDT) and Causal Decision Theory (CDT). I here argue that the main…

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Choice Group Seminar by Vanessa Carr (LMU): ‘Believing in Success Against the Odds’

29 November 2023, 4:30 pm6:00 pm
LAK 2.06, Lakatos Building
London, WC2A 2AE United Kingdom
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Abstract: We sometimes intend to do things that we appropriately recognise to be difficult, so that the odds of failure are significant. This raises some questions: when intending to do something that one recognises to be difficult, does one believe that one will succeed “against the odds”? What is it to hold such a belief? Can it be rational to hold…

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December 2023

Choice Group Seminar by Erica Yu (Erasmus Institute) and Adam Wingårdh (LSE Philosophy)

6 December 2023, 4:30 pm6:00 pm
LAK 2.06, Lakatos Building
London, WC2A 2AE United Kingdom
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    Erica Yu (Erasmus Institute): 'From Signed Orders to Committee Rankings' Abstract: Given a set of candidates for a committee tasked with representing a population in collective deliberations and decisions, individuals not only have preferences for some candidates over others, but also preferences for a candidate’s inclusion or exclusion in the committee. In addition, the approvals and disapprovals of…

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January 2024

Choice Group Seminar by Brian Mcelwee (University of Southampton): ‘The Variability of Moral Demands’

17 January, 4:30 pm6:00 pm
LAK 2.06, Lakatos Building
London, WC2A 2AE United Kingdom
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Abstract: Two common thoughts about morality appear to pull us in opposite directions. On the one hand, we may conceive of morality as a common set of rules that equally bind every person. Unlike matters of personal vocation, individual ideals, idiosyncratic tastes and preferences, all of which seem to give reasons to some agents but not others, we tend to conceive…

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Choice Group Seminar by Benjamin Ferguson (The University of Warwick) and Roberto Veneziani (Queen Mary University of London): ‘What Exploitation Is’

24 January, 4:30 pm6:00 pm
LAK 2.06, Lakatos Building
London, WC2A 2AE United Kingdom
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Abstract: We adopt an experimental approach to gauge the philosophers’ view of what exploitation is. Our experimental design does not test existing theories of exploitation. Rather, it focuses on more fundamental properties that are the building blocks for these theories. We find, first, that exploitation is not a vacuous concept: not all economic interactions are deemed exploitative. Second, contrary to several…

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Choice Group Seminar by Alex Gregory (University of Southampton): ‘Structural Rationality in Desire’

31 January, 4:30 pm6:00 pm
LAK 2.06, Lakatos Building
London, WC2A 2AE United Kingdom
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Abstract: Can desires be irrational? This paper focuses on the possibility that desires can be irrational in virtue of failing to cohere with other mental states of the person in question (including their other desires). Recent literature on structural irrationality has largely neglected structural requirements on desire, and this paper aims to remedy this neglect, not only to inform that literature,…

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February 2024

Choice Group Seminar by Brad Hooker (University of Reading): ‘Fittingness and Well-Being’

7 February, 4:30 pm6:00 pm
LAK 2.06, Lakatos Building
London, WC2A 2AE United Kingdom
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Abstract: This paper focuses on non-instrumental values that constitute positive contributions to well-being. The paper asks whether the things that constitute contributions to a person’s well-being involve relations of fittingness. Section 1 of the paper briefly considers the desire-fulfilment theory of well-being and its implications for whether the fittingness of attitudes (including emotions, desires, and beliefs) is a prudential good. Section…

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Choice Group Seminar by Richard Bradley (LSE): ‘Chance, Fairness and Dynamic Consistency’

14 February, 4:30 pm6:00 pm
LAK 2.06, Lakatos Building
London, WC2A 2AE United Kingdom
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Abstract: Discussion of the relationship between dynamic consistency and the Sure-thing principle has figured prominently in recent debate over the rationality of the kind of ambiguity aversion some display in the Ellsberg paradox; less so in the literature on the preference for fairness postulated by Diamond (1967). Yet both are instances of a preference for randomisation (respectively over events/states and over…

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