Jonathan Dancy’s Moral Philosophy

July 20, 2023 - July 21, 2023

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Soka University
University of Texas at Austin
Cardiff University
Beijing Normal University
University of York
National Chung Cheng University


National Chung Cheng University

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This lecture series is devoted to Jonathan Dancy’s moral philosophy. Dancy is most renowned for his ground-breaking work on moral particularism, which, as he put it, is the view that the rationality of moral judgment and thought does not depend upon a supply of moral principles. Furthermore, particularism is rooted in his also renowned work on reasons holism, the view that what makes a moral reason for or against action in one context may not do so in another. For the past four decades, Dancy’s twin doctrines of particularism and reasons holism have been subjected to a (purportedly) thorough examination, or have they? On the front of particularism, some express sympathies, advocating ‘shapelessness’ of the moral with respect to the natural in support (e.g. Peter Tsu, Debbie Roberts, and Simon Kirchin), while others remain unconvinced (Michael Ridge, Sean McKeever, Pekka Väyrynen, Frank Jackson, Michael Smith, Philip Pettit, Mark Schroeder), upholding various forms of anti-particularist/principled ethics. On the front of reasons holism, although it has attracted many supporters (Simon Kirchin, Alan Thomas, Christine Swanton, Ralf Bader), it is not lacking in dissenters as well (Roger Crisp, David McNaughton & Piers Rawling, Selim Berker, Daniel Fogal, Peter Tsu). Have the debates on both fronts lapsed into a deadlock? Could more progress be made on these issues? In this lecture series, we feel honored to invite Jonathan Dancy who provoked all these debates to give an opening address whose title will be ‘What Was Prichard’s Problem?’ and in which he will further develop his view of reasons as ‘favorers’ by examining the metaphysics of the favoring relation. He will be joined by speakers and discussants who are stimulated by his moral philosophy (five of whom are from Asia), discussing its central themes ranging from particularism, reasons holism to rationality, narrative justification, practical reasoning and organic unities, etc. Dancy will also serve as a commentator. Part of the purpose of this lecture series is to make progress on various issues triggered off by Dancy’s moral philosophy, and part of it is to make Asian voices on relevant issues heard. (written by organizer: Peter Shiu-Hwa Tsu)

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July 19, 2023, 11:45pm UTC

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