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Departmental Colloquium, 2019/2020

Colloquia take place from 4.15pm to 6:00pm in OC1.07 (Oculus Building) unless otherwise indicated. For further information, please contact Naomi Eilan ( or Barnaby Walker ( Details of previous years’ colloquia can be found here.

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Philosophy Department Colloquium

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Location: MS Teams

Guest Speaker: Robert Stern (Sheffield)

Title: "How is human freedom compatible with the authority of the Good?’ Murdoch on moral agency, freedom, and imagination"

This paper deals with the issue of choice and agency in moral action. On the one hand, it seems that the moral agent should use their practical reason to determine what it is right for them to do, and act accordingly; on the other hand, this seems to leave little room for choice in their action, where choice is often said to be a marker of freedom and how the will is exercised. In response to this difficulty, Ruth Chang has argued recently that reasons themselves need to be seen as being created through an act of will. Looking at the work of Iris Murdoch, it is argued that this response is problematic. At the same time, it is also argued that Murdoch can provide a fruitful way of dealing with this problem through her account of imagination, which gives a role to the agent not in choice, but in uncovering the reasons that should guide their actions.

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