Higher Sem in Practical Philosophy: Thomas Schmidt (Humboldt) "Contrastive Normativity Without Contrastivism"

4 april 2024 13:15 till 15:00 Seminarium

It is with great pleasure we welcome Prof Thomas Schmidt from Humboldt University. He will give a self-contained talk at the Higher seminar in practical philosophy. Here is his title and abrstract:

Contrastive Normativity Without Contrastivism

Thomas Schmidt


One sometimes ought to refrain from x-ing, but one ought to x rather than y – i.e., if one either x-s or y-s, then one ought to x. The much-discussed Gentle Murder case is a paradigm: one ought not to murder, but if one murders, then one ought to do it gently rather than brutally. The classic desideratum is to provide an account of the conditional obligation ‘if one either x-s or y-s, then one ought to x’ such that it, when conjoined with ‘one either x-s or y-s’, does not entail that one ought to x. For, otherwise, if one murders, it would follow that one ought to murder gently. And this would deontically contradict that one ought to refrain from murdering to begin with.

I suggest a novel account of such conditional obligations in terms of reasons that coheres with orthodoxy about reasons and that extends a standard view about how reasons and oughts are related to one another. The account covers a range of noteworthy normative phenomena, including ones that have been said to support unorthodox contrastivism about reasons, i.e., the view that all reasons are fundamentally contrastive (‘for … rather than …’).

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4 april 2024 13:15 till 15:00



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