Dr Caroline West
Dr Caroline West is a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Sydney. She received her PhD in philosophy from The Australian National University in 1997. She lectured at Monash University and Macquarie University, before joining the Department in 2002.
Her main areas of teaching and research interest are in metaphysics (especially personal identity); ethics; political philosophy; philosophy and psychology of well-being; applied ethics and political philosophy (including bioethics, corporate social responsibility, free speech, institutional design and wellbeing); and feminist philosophy.
She has published in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Journal of Political Philosophy, Canadian Journal of Philosophy and the Journal of Value Inquiry. She is author of the entry on "Pornography and Censorship" in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Among other projects, she is currently writing a book on Happiness, forthcoming with Routledge in 2011. Here is a brief synopsis:
We all want to be happy and to live a worthwhile life. But exactly what is happiness? Why should we want it? And how do we get it? This book sets out to answer these questions, combining philosophical analysis of the nature and value of happiness with current scientific research into the sources of happiness to illuminate how happiness may best be achieved.
She is a member of the Council of the Australasian Association of Philosophy; and is currently also Media Officer for the Association.
She currently holds an ARC Discovery grant (with David Braddon-Mitchell, Uriah Kriegel and Adina Roskies) for a project on Personal Identity, Consciouness and Agency.
(She is not to be confused with the other Dr Caroline West, the GP [although some say there is an uncanny resemblance.])
Most of these articles are (or shortly will be) accessible here in electronic form. Links to JSTOR copies of published papers are included, where available.
'Scorekeeping in a Pornographic Language Game' (with Rae Langton) Australasian Journal of Philosophy 77(3), September, 1999: 309-319
'Temporal-Phase Pluralism', (with David-Braddon-Mitchell) Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 62(1), January, 2001: 59-83
We examine a pluralist or relativist conception of personal identity and solve a major problem for such conceptions: the problem of what happens should the relevant criteria for personhood change during the apparent life span of a person. This leads to examination of the relationship between considerations of numerical identity and qualitative identity of the looser sort. We conclude with some radical suggestions concerning the relationship of person-stages to whole persons. These solutions and suggestions in turn lend support to the original pluralist conception of personal identity with which we started.
'The Free Speech Argument Against Pornography', Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 33(3), September, 2003: 391-422
A promising new line of feminist argument for anti-pornography legislation goes by way of the surprising claim that pornography "silences" women or violates their civil right to freedom of speech. But the argument faces some serious objections. This paper develops the silencing argument so as to answer these objections, and along the way outlines a new approach to the right to free speech that has advantages over more orthodox liberal conception(s).
'What is Free Speech?' (with David Braddon-Mitchell), The Journal of Political Philosophy 12(4), 2004: 437:460.
'Liberalism and Mental Mediation' (with Daniel Nolan), Journal of Value Inquiry, 38(2), 2004: 186-202.
(This is a fuller-length version of this paper that has a lot more footnotes, and an extra section on pornography. We would prefer that citations be to the version published in the JVI, except if anyone wants to cite bits of this fuller paper that do not appear there.)
‘Moral Fictionalism versus the rest’ (with Daniel Nolan and Greg Restall), Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Volume 83, Number 3/September 2005, 307-330.
(Here is a full, unexpergated version of this paper - it contains a general introduction to fictionalism lacking in the published variant. We would prefer citations to be to the published version in the AJP.)
Selected popular publications
"Definition of the Good Life", Reform Issue 88, 'Life, Law and Leisure' Winter 2006
The Politics of Hope, Australian Review of Public Affairs, 20 June 2005
"Are Some Humans More Equal Than Others?", Australian Review of Public Affairs, 10 May 2004
The next section contains some of her recent papers either forthcoming or (hopefully) soon to be forthcoming that may otherwise be hard to get hold of.
Forthcoming and Draft Papers
Citation: Those that are forthcoming may be cited as such. Other preliminary papers may be cited if you send her an email with the relevant passage for approval. You may not cite it without approval, even with qualifications like "Caroline West once wrote on her website ..."
Persons, Stages and Prudence
Many of us are four-dimensionalists. What implications does the four-dimensionalist view of persons as constructed out of numerically distinct time slices have for prudential reason? Does a current person-stage have reason to promote the good of distinct future stages of the person? Or does she have reason only to promote the localized good of the current deliberating slice or cluster? Is even localized stage concern justified or required? This paper develops an account which grounds prudential reason in the desires of person-stages to promote the well-being of other person-stages that are constitutive of the personal identity relation.
Personal Identity, Individual Autonomy and Group Rights
The orthodox liberal package says 1) that individuals have a right to autonomy and 2) that strong group rights are impermissible. Drawing on a certain (four-dimensionalist) account of personal identity, this paper argues that this package is inconsistent: in each case, there is the nonconsensual and inescapable domination of some numerically distinct person-stages by others, justified by a unity relation. If such domination is acceptable in one, it ought to be acceptable in the other (or else acceptable in neither)-absent some new argument for treating the cases asymmetrically, that liberals have yet to provide.
Expressing Our Selves
This paper develops a non-cognitivist approach to personal identity.