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Ethics and Political Philosophy Group Talk (Nate Oppel & Stacy Chen, Toronto)

Friday December 15, 2023, 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm

The Ethics and Political Philosophy Research Group is pleased to welcome two guest speakers for this date: Nate Oppel & Stacy Chen, both of them graduate students in the Department of Philosophy. Each talk will be 30 minutes long, with plenty of time for discussion afterward.

Oppel Talk Title

Trying to Believe

Oppel Talk Abstract

Our beliefs are subject to obligations, and we hold one another responsible when we fail to meet these obligations. We negatively appraise flat-earthers and anti-vaxxers exactly because we take them to have failed to believe as they ought to. However, it is often maintained that we do not control our beliefs in the way we control our actions (that is, intentionally), and so the capacity in virtue of which we are responsible for our actions cannot be the same as the capacity in virtue of which we are responsible for forming and revising our beliefs. I argue that this contention is mistaken, that we are directly responsible for our beliefs because we have the capacity to intentionally revise them, and that this is the reason we can be appraised on the basis of our beliefs.

Chen Talk Title

Patience and Patients: How Can We Address Unreasonableness in Medical Decision-Making

Chen Talk Abstract

I propose a group of clinical hard choices called ‘under-reasoned’ choices. These are due to the patient thinking that the reasons for each treatment option have ‘run out’ and they cannot form an all-things-considered preference toward one option; but the average observer (and crucially, the medical establishment) generally would not agree. In these cases, I propose that the role of the practitioner is to guide the patient toward the option that is in accordance with a standard of reasonableness to resolve the hard choice. Such a standard has not yet been explored much within medical ethics. My choice of  the term reasonableness (rather than, for example, irrationality) is to draw a parallel between the ‘standard of reasonableness’ present in the legal scholarship and a similar metric in medical decision-making. I argue that medical decision-making operates on a generally accepted ordering of reasons, such that some decisions will be considered more reasonable than others, despite all of them being acceptable.

About the Ethics and Political Philosophy Group

The Ethics and Political Philosophy Group meets periodically throughout the year to discuss topics in value theory and related fields, including meta-ethics, normative ethics, applied ethics, social and political philosophy, philosophy of law, moral psychology, practical reason, agency, and identity.



Friday December 15, 2023
1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
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Brendan de Kenessey


Jackman Humanities Building 100
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