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Grad Student News: Mete H. Gencer Conference Talks

June 28, 2022

Philospohy MA Student Mete H. Gencer will be giving talks at two upcoming international conferences.

The first is at the 2022 Australasian Association of Philosophy (AAP) Conference at the University of Waikato (online), June 28, 29, 30 & July 5, 6, 7, 2022.

Title: "The Paradox of Moral Queerness: Reconstructing Mackie's Queerness Argument"

Abstract: In his Ethics, J. L. Mackie argues that objective values don’t exist because they are “queer.” Despite the controversy it has stirred in metaethics, this argument is notoriously difficult to understand. Specifically, we need to answer two hard questions to understand the argument. What is it that Mackie finds “queer” about objective values? And how does he infer that ‘objective values don’t exist’ from that ‘objective values are queer’? These questions are hard because they have no clear answers in Ethics. The interpretive challenge, then, is to answer them clearly. In this paper, I undertake this challenge by offering a novel reading of Mackie’s metaphysical queerness argument. On this reading, objective values are “queer” because they prescribe actions that are metaphysically impossible for agents to do. I argue that this reading captures the essence of Mackie’s worry: our deepest moral commitments require both that objective values are “queer” and that they cannot be “queer.” This leads to a paradox, the most plausible way out of which is to concede that there are no objective values. Finally, I argue that my reading has the virtue of being consistent with other prominent readings in the literature while having substantial advantages over them.

The second is at SOPhiA 2022, the Salzburg Conference for Young Analytic Philosophy (hybrid), September 7-9, 2022

Title: "On the Belief Condition in Thomas Reid’s Theory of Action"

Abstract: One peculiar implication of Thomas Reid’s theory of action is a belief condition: one can only do what one believes one can do. The peculiarity is that while Reid is a staunch defender of common sense, this belief condition runs afoul of common sense. We sometimes succeed in doing things without believing that we can. This raises an interpretive challenge in the form of two questions. Why does Reid let his theory of action imply such a belief condition? And does Reid’s theory of action need the belief condition? In this paper, I argue for a reading of Reid that answers these two questions. On this reading, Reid allows his theory of action to imply the belief condition because he has certain epistemic and moral goals. However, Reid doesn’t need to achieve these goals to establish his theory of action. Interestingly, Reid’s views on action are logically independent of his belief condition.