The Fall 2017 Philosophy Colloquium Series presents Christel Fricke (University of Oslo). Title: Constructivism in Ethics - The Version of Adam Smith.
TUESDAY, Nov 14, 2-4pm, Soc Sci 332.
Abstract: In 1980, Rawls delivered his John Dewey lectures at Columbia University under the title ‘Kantian Constructivism in Moral Theory’. What he calls ‘Kantian Constructivism’ is the philosophical method on which he relied in his Theory of Justice. Meanwhile, various versions of constructivism have been suggested. What they have in common is the idea that moral standards emerge from processes of interaction and collective decision making; they derive their authority from these processes. Constructivism in ethics is suspected to be inevitably circular: Do the processes of constructing moral standards presuppose such standards? I shall present another version of constructivism, the version of Adam Smith. My question is whether Smith’s moral constructivism can escape the problem of circularity.