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Choice Group Seminar by Lukas Beck (LSE) and Marcel Jahn (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin): ‘What is a Normative Model? Taking Justification Seriously’

6 March, 4:30 pm6:00 pm

Abstract:  In recent years, several authors have highlighted that models play an important but underappreciated role in ethics and other “normative disciplines.” In these fields, models serve, inter alia, as devices for characterizing, testing, and justifying normative claims. In short, they play quite diverse roles in normative inquiry. However, philosophers concerned with the use of models in normative inquiry have so far not paid sufficient attention to this diversity: they have largely ignored that models – depending on their precise purpose – require very different treatment and present unique theoretical challenges. In our talk, we suggest that we need a more fine-grained treatment of models in “normative disciplines.” In particular, we argue that although some models in ethics can be analyzed with the tools already provided by the philosophy of modeling, models that aim at justifying normative verdicts should be treated separately and come with distinct theoretical challenges. As we show, extant accounts of how models can successfully aid normative inquiry (i.e., Roussos (2022) and Bykvist and Roussos (ms.)) neglect the unique role of models aimed at justifying normative verdicts. Based on this result, we conclude the talk by revisiting our own account of how models can successfully provide us with normative justification (Beck and Jahn 2021) and defend it against some recent criticism.

Lukas Beck is a Fellow at the LSE Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method.

Marcel Jahn is a Doctoral student in philosophy at Humboldt Universität zu Berlin since spring 2020 supported by the Elsa-Neumann-Stipendium of the state Berlin.

This event will take place in person on LSE’s campus. However, those unable to attend in person will have the option of taking part online.

To join online just follow these instructions:

Please note that these events are routinely recorded, with the edited footage being made publicly available on our website and YouTube channel. We will only record the audio, the slides and the speaker and will not include the Q&A section. However, any question asked during the talk itself will feature in the final edit.


6 March
4:30 pm – 6:00 pm
Event Category:


LAK 2.06
Lakatos Building
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