The Spring 2019 Philosophy Colloquium Series presents George Sher (Rice University).
Title: Risky Thoughts
This talk is a chapter from a nearly-completed book entitled A Wild West of the Mind. Put most simply, the book's thesis is that no thoughts are morally off limits--that as long as they're kept private, it's never impermissible or wrong to have even the nastiest attitudes, the ugliest fantasies, or the most biased beliefs. The talk addresses the question of whether any thoughts are too risky to be morally permissible. Reduced to its essentials, my answer is that the risks that are posed by most thoughts do not even approach the impermissibility threshold, but that a few of them do come close. In the end, I believe that none actually cross the line, but because a risk’s permissibility depends in part on what would be lost by not imposing it, I can’t fully defend this claim without addressing the costs of self-censorship. Thus, the final step of my argument must await the positive case for freedom of mind that will be developed in the book's later chapters.
Location: Maloney Seminar Room, Social Sciences 224.