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Seminars in Moral Philosophy Week 8 TT09

Event Name Seminars in Moral Philosophy Week 8 TT09
Start Date 15th Jun 2009 4:30pm
End Date 15th Jun 2009 6:30pm
Duration 2 hours

David Sobel (Nebraska - Lincoln) 'Parfit on Subjectivism' to be held in the Lecture Room, 10 Merton Street, Oxford - Seminars in Moral Philosophy webpage


Derek Parfit argues that all subjective accounts of normative reasons make wildly implausible claims. He rightly insists that we have reasons to get sensations that we like and to avoid agony now and in the future. Subjective accounts cannot accommodate this thought, he claims, because likings are importantly different from desires and because subjectivists are forced to give weight only to desires that the agent currently has. One might, even after informed deliberation, fail to desire now that one avoids future agony. So subjectivists cannot vindicate the obvious claim that we now have reason to avoid tomorrow’s agony.

I will argue that Parfit’s argument against subjectivism fails because he has not adequately justified either the claim that likings are importantly different from desiring or the claim that subjectivists cannot adequately accommodate the reason-giving force of future desires. I will go on to explore the prospects and problems for justifying these key aspects of Parfit’s argument and hopefully have time to consider other arguments Parfit offers against subjectivism as well.

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