Hilary Term 2019

Week 2.
23 January 2019.
Week 4.
6 February 2019.
Week 6.
20 February 2019.
Week 8.
6 March 2019.
Simon-Pierre Chevarie-Cossette Emmanuel Ordóñez Angulo Raphaël Millière Bob Underwood

Schedule correct as of 17 January 2019.

Week 2. 23 January 2019.
Speaker: Simon-Pierre Chevarie-Cossette.
Title: Sceptical deliberations
Abstract: Leeway sceptics believe that they lack the ability to do otherwise. Even if they were correct, they would be in trouble. For then they could never initiate or conduct practical deliberation rationally. This is true because of two general principles, which have been long recognised but never put together. The first principle is that the aim of practical deliberation is to make rational decisions. The second principle is that it is impossible to rationally decide to perform actions which we cannot reasonably assume to be available to us. Since leeway sceptics cannot reasonably assume that their ‘options’ are available to them, they cannot deliberate rationally.

Week 4. 6 February 2019.
Speaker: Emmanuel Ordóñez Angulo
Title: Transformative Suffering
Abstract: A long-standing aim of film, especially of ‘extreme’ or ‘unwatchable’ cinema, has been to acquaint viewers with extreme suffering. This aim has important extra-aesthetic, epistemic and normative dimensions. Here I argue that only first-person-perspective Virtual Reality can meet them. To support this, I draw on insights from the philosophy of mind, specifically the view that knowledge of suffering is necessarily de se and the view that the de se mode of presentation has an essential role in transformative experience, the sort that extreme cinema aims at. Though prompted by an issue in aesthetics, the article’s overall aim is to advertise the philosophical study of VR by bringing out its transformative potential.

Week 6. 20 February 2019.
Speaker: Raphaël Millière
Title: Bodily self-consciousness
Abstract: Many philosophers and psychologists agree that there is a special connection between bodily awareness and self-consciousness, although they disagree on how to adequately characterise this connection. This disagreement resolves around two issues. First, what is the relevant criterion to determine whether a bodily experience should count as instance of self-consciousness? Against Bermúdez, I argue that bodily experiences can only be instances of self-consciousness if they involve a phenomenology of bodily ownership, namely if they are experiences as of one’s body or body part. Second, do bodily experiences normally involve a phenomenology of bodily ownership? Existing arguments in support of a positive answer to this question draw upon empirical evidence regarding the rubber hand illusion, somatoparaphrenia and depersonalisation disorder. I argue that such arguments are inconclusive, and introduce a new argument that draws upon evidence regarding drug-induced states. I conclude by discussing the prevalence of the phenomenology of bodily ownership in ordinary conscious experience.

Week 8. 6 March 2019.
Speaker: Bob Underwood
Title: The Communicative Function of Killing in War
Abstract: Killing in war often eliminates threats and plays a part in influencing the decisions of others. When killing in war serves this communicative function it necessarily harms and uses the person killed as means to some further end. Most who write on killing in war do not discuss the moral dimensions of the message soldiers and other combatants send when they kill in war. In this paper, I argue that, like punishment, the message we communicate through killing in war is an important consideration that can feature in the balance of reasons one might have for killing some but not others in war. This is most often the case when combatants already have defensive options justified on the grounds of liability to defensive harm and this is context I explore in this paper. In this context, combatants that fight for just aims can offer three justifications for the communicative function of killing in war even though it harms and uses persons as means to some further end. As with punishment, there are many justifiable aims that communication through defensive harming might achieve and as many messages that we might convey in order to achieve those aims.