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ONLINE: Thomas Sinclair (Oxford): “Permissivism about Rescue Dilemmas”
25 March, 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm
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Abstract: In defiance of what to many philosophers seems to be simple common sense, permissivists think that it’s permissible to rescue the few rather than the many in familiar philosophical cases of ‘rescue dilemmas’. I explore arguments for permissivism, motivated by the sense that permissivists are getting at something of deep theoretical importance, something that poses a challenge not only to consequentialist accounts of morality (as might have been expected) but also to consequentialism’s leading contemporary rival. I argue that to complete the permissivist argument, the key permissivist argumentative strategies need to be supplemented with an account of the moral relationship that interprets ideals of justification internal to it in a less demanding way than contractualists do. A critic might summarise this by saying that I argue that a view widely thought to be ridiculous can be defended only by rejecting a popular, attractive theoretical foundation in favour of a more controversial alternative. This would be accurate. But it turns out to be worth the effort anyway, I think.