Practical Necessity and the Realm of Meaning
Michael Campbell (Kyoto University)

May 2, 2023, 3:30pm - 5:00pm
PHI Research Group, Deakin University

Building C, Level 2, Room 5
221 Burwood Highway, Burwood
Melbourne 3125

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Deakin University

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At some moments in our lives we may be moved to speak of a certain course of action as necessary - in other words, as required in an absolute or non-negotiable sense. The nature of such demands is a source of perennial debate within ethics, with some rejecting the reality of practical necessities entirely, others seeing them as an expression of self-identity, and yet others connecting them to the impersonal dictates of morality. In this talk I offer some reflections on the connections between practical necessity, the meaning of an action, and the imagination. I suggest that the dependence of practical necessity on meaning introduces a certain aspect of contingency into necessity statements. Whether this frustrates their purpose will depend on how that purpose is understood. Regardless, I hope that locating such declarations on this background will help us better to appreciate why this form of words has a tendency to arouse both fascination and controversy.

A zoom link can be provided via Jack Reynolds ([email protected])

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