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Meeting 23 – Peer Review Circle Practical Philosophy

3 July 2018 @ 17:30 - 19:30

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We will meet to discuss Akshat Jitendranath’s draft paper entitled ‘Does The Small Improvement Argument Threaten Comparativism?” (abstract below). Please contact Jojanneke Vanderveen (j.s.vanderveen@vu.nl) or Huub Brouwer (h.m.brouwer@uvt.nl) to receive the paper and location details. If you cannot attend but would like to be put on the mailing list of the circle, please contact Jojanneke. Does The Small Improvement Argument Threaten Comparativism? On the comparativist view of practical reason, what constitutes a justified choice is the selection of an alternative…
We will meet to discuss Akshat Jitendranath's draft paper entitled 'Does The Small Improvement Argument Threaten Comparativism?" (abstract below). Please contact Jojanneke Vanderveen (j.s.vanderveen@vu.nl) or Huub Brouwer (h.m.brouwer@uvt.nl) to receive the paper and location details. If you cannot attend but would like to be put on the mailing list of the circle, please contact Jojanneke. Does The Small Improvement Argument Threaten Comparativism? On the comparativist view of practical reason, what constitutes a justified choice is the selection of an alternative that is at least as good as every other alternative that can be selected instead. A hard choice situation does not have such an alternative. The possibility, then, of making (what comparativists view as) a justified choice is precluded in such choice situations. Hard choice situations, therefore, threaten the comparativist view of practical reason. This threat is founded on the small improve- ment argument. Indeed, every plausible view of what is a hard choice – epistemic limits, incomparability, and parity – invokes this argument to demonstrate when a choice situation constitutes a hard choice. Thus, the small improvement argument grounds the threat to comparativism that a hard choice situation presents. The objective of this paper is to show that this threat is an empty one. I do so by ar- guing for the following claims: (1) the support for the central premise of the small improvement argument does not work; and more conclusively (2) if what constitutes a justified choice is the selection of an alternative that is at least as good as every other alternative that can be selected instead, then there is a decisive reason to reject the central premise of the small improvement arguement. To wit, the premise is not necessary to make (what comparativists view as) a justified choice. Taken together, the two claims show that the small improvement argument – because it relies on an unsupported premise that comparativists can decisively reject – does not threaten the comparativist view of practical reason.

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University of Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands
Utrecht, The Netherlands
Utrecht, Utrecht The Netherlands
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We will meet to discuss Akshat Jitendranath’s draft paper entitled ‘Does The Small Improvement Argument Threaten Comparativism?” (abstract below). Please contact Jojanneke Vanderveen (j.s.vanderveen@vu.nl) or Huub Brouwer (h.m.brouwer@uvt.nl) to receive the paper and location details. If you cannot attend but would like to be put on the mailing list of the circle, please contact Jojanneke.

Does The Small Improvement Argument Threaten Comparativism?

On the comparativist view of practical reason, what constitutes a justified choice is the selection of an alternative that is at least as good as every other alternative that can be selected instead. A hard choice situation does not have such an alternative. The possibility, then, of making (what comparativists view as) a justified choice is precluded in such choice situations. Hard choice situations, therefore, threaten the comparativist view of practical reason. This threat is founded on the small improve- ment argument. Indeed, every plausible view of what is a hard choice – epistemic limits, incomparability, and parity – invokes this argument to demonstrate when a choice situation constitutes a hard choice. Thus, the small improvement argument grounds the threat to comparativism that a hard choice situation presents. The objective of this paper is to show that this threat is an empty one. I do so by ar- guing for the following claims: (1) the support for the central premise of the small improvement argument does not work; and more conclusively (2) if what constitutes a justified choice is the selection of an alternative that is at least as good as every other alternative that can be selected instead, then there is a decisive reason to reject the central premise of the small improvement arguement. To wit, the premise is not necessary to make (what comparativists view as) a justified choice. Taken together, the two claims show that the small improvement argument – because it relies on an unsupported premise that comparativists can decisively reject – does not threaten the comparativist view of practical reason.

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The OZSW event calendar lists academic philosophy events organized by/at Dutch universities, and is offered by the OZSW as a service to the research community. Please check the event in question – through their website or organizer – to find out if you could participate and whether registration is required. Obviously we carry no responsibility for non-OZSW events.