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PhD Student Session: Sophie Kikkert and Dmitry Ananyev

9 December 2020, 4:30 pm6:00 pm

This event will take place online via Zoom. 

Everyone is welcome to join using a computer with access to the internet and Zoom. To take part 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.

Dmitry Ananyev: Imperfect Duties: An Impossibility Result?

Abstract: The distinction between perfect and imperfect duties is well-recognised in moral philosophy and it has been used in different ways throughout its history. In recent decades it has mostly been used to make sense of the intuitive idea that there are duties that give agents wide latitude in how to fulfil them as opposed to duties that allow no such latitude. This idea is common in the debates about obligations of assistance: it is thought that the concept of imperfect duty can be used to formulate a plausible moderately demanding version of this duty, in contrast to the views that the duty of assistance is very demanding or that it is minimalistic in its demands. However, there is no generally accepted account of imperfect duties that can be used to serve this purpose. My aim is to argue that if several widely held intuitions about imperfect duties are accepted, then it is impossible to come up with such an account, because at least two of these intuitions are mutually inconsistent. If the inconsistency is avoided by rejecting at least one of the intuitions, the resulting accounts of imperfect duties lose much of their attractiveness. The implication of my argument is that the concept of imperfect duties, at least in the ways it is intuitively understood in contemporary discussions, should not be used as a basis for a moderate view of the duty of assistance.


Sophie Kikkert: “Ability’s Two Dimensions of Robustness”

Abstract: In this talk I individuate two dimensions of modal robustness relevant for ability attributions. Robustness along the first dimension helps distinguish the successful exercise of an ability from lucky successes. Just as the safety condition for knowledge ensures an agent’s lucky true beliefs do not count as knowledge, type I robustness secures that the agent’s lucky successful acts do not count as exercises of an ability. Type II robustness captures that able agents can exercise their ability not just in a single scenario, but across a contextually appropriate range of circumstances. This dimension of counterfactual stability helps us understand what it means to have a ‘general ability’. I argue that these two dimensions are not always clearly distinguished from one another within the literature, and that representing each and the relation between them is an important desideratum for a theory of ability.


9 December 2020
4:30 pm – 6:00 pm
Event Category:




Online via Zoom