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Consequentialism and the justification of blame – what one-eyed utilitarianism still can't do

Location
ERI 149
Dates
Wednesday 5 December 2018 (13:00-14:00)
xray315

Philosophy Work in Progress Seminar Series 2018/19

  • Speaker: Dr Anneli Jefferson
  • Title: Consequentialism and the justification of blame – what one-eyed utilitarianism still can’t do

The Philosophy department's work in progress seminar is an opportunity for the members of staff at Birmingham to present the material they are working on to each other and to the department's postgraduate students.
The seminar meets roughly on fortnightly Wednesdays from 13:00 to 14.00 in the ERI. All welcome!

Abstract

Consequentialist accounts of moral responsibility justify our practices of holding each other responsible by appealing to their consequences. Direct consequentialist accounts such as that of JCC Smart take the effects on the target of blame or praise to justify blaming or praising them, indirect accounts (for example Manuel Vargas’) take the whole responsibility community into account in considering what effects justify  praise or blame. A common objection to these indirect accounts is that they allow us to instrumentalise the innocent or the non-responsible if the benefits to the moral community are sufficiently high. I discuss ways of avoiding these consequences. In doing so, I show the extent to which consequentialists still need to appeal to a backward-looking notion of desert and argue that reliance on a minimal notion of desert does not undermine consequentialist approaches to moral responsibility.

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