2014 JSI Seminar Series: Assoc Prof Kevin Toh

19 June 2014

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The Place of Social Practices in Our Normative Lives

The distinction between what we ought to do anyway on the one hand, and what we ought to do because of our practices on the other seems to have been a perennial philosophical concern. And as befits a perennial philosophical concern, the distinction has proved stubbornly elusive and difficult to pin down. Recently, in a thought-provoking and vigorously-argued paper, Nicholas Southwood (2011) has pursued the query in terms of the distinction between morality and conventions, or more specifically between moral judgments and conventional normative judgments; and he has proposed a way of characterizing this distinction that he deems superior to some common and influential alternatives. According to Southwood, appeals to social practices, or "what is done", are necessary non-derivative grounds for conventional normative judgments, whereas such appeals can only be derivative grounds for moral judgments. In effect, Kevin Toh argues, Southwood is characterizing us as invariably treating social practices as having final extrinsic values when we make conventional normative judgments. In assessing and questioning Southwood's proposal, Toh scrutinizes and questions a view that seems to have become an orthodoxy in contemporary normative ethics -- namely, the view that there is a clear, qualitative distinction between final extrinsic and non-final extrinsic values.

About the speaker
Kevin Toh is Associate Professor of Philosophy at San Francisco State University. He has degrees from Harvard College and the University of Michigan. He has also taught at Indiana University in Bloomington and University of Texas School of Law. He is the author of a number of articles in philosophy of law.

Lawyers/barristers: attendance at this lecture is equal to 1.5 MCLE/CPD unit

Time: 6pm-8pm

Location: Faculty Common Room, Level 4, New Law Building (F10), Eastern Avenue, University of Sydney

Cost: Free, however registration is essential

Contact: Professional Learning and Community Engagement (PLaCE) Team

Phone: 02 9351 0248

Email: 23263d44561b4e413129330a105c3e240d6b4a1c46180641