The Spring 2015 Philosophy Colloquium Series presents Shyam Nair, Lingnan University. The Title of Professor Nair's talk is "The Accrual of Reasons: Some First Thoughts." (Abstract below.)
Friday, Jan 30, 2015, 3-5pm, Chris Maloney Seminar Room, Social Sciences 224 (1145 E South Campus Drive 85721).
A popular idea in moral philosophy is that facts about what we ought to do are explained by facts about what we have reason to do (or believe). The idea is that in standard choice situations there are often considerations in favor of some act x as well as considerations in favor of an incompatible act y. The act that ought to be done is the act that "wins in the competition among reasons". In recent years, much prograss has been made in moral philosophy, epistemology, and philosophical logic toward understanding the different ways reasons can "win out" and understanding how to precisely and non-metephorically describe the mechanics of this "winning out" process.
But there are certain simple cases that are still not well understood. For example, sometimes we can have two reason to do x and one reason to do y. And it can happen that each of the reasons to do x is individually worse than the reason to do y but somehow together the strengths of the individual reasons to do x "add up" to make x the thing that ought to be done. The main aim of this talk is to explain why it is challenging to understand these cases and to present some conjectures about how to meet this challenge. Throughout the talk, we will adopt a general perspective that considers not only the kinds of cases with this structure that arise in moral philosophy but also the kinds of cases with this structure that arise in epistemology.