2018 Jack Smart Lecture - Constitutivism and the Modal Conception of Ideality: Implications and Limitations

2018 Jack Smart Lecture - Constitutivism and the Modal Conception of Ideality: Implications and Limitations
Monday 29 October 2018

On Tuesday 27 November 2018, please join us for the twentieth annual Jack Smart lecture, to be given by Professor Michael Smith (McCosh Professor of Philosophy, Princeton University).

To commemorate the twentieth lecture in the university's flagship philosophy public lecture series, we will be unveiling a painting of Jack donated to the School by the artist and philosopher Renee Bolinger.

2018 Jack Smart Lecture

Constitutivism and the Modal Conception of Ideality: Implications and Limitations

Professor Michael Smith

McCosh Professor of Philosophy, Princeton University

Distinguished Visiting Focus Professor, Monash University

Abstract: Ambitious Constitutivism is the view that we can define what it is for a consideration to be a reason for action in terms of features of ideal agents; that such a definition allows us to distinguish moral from non-moral reasons for action; and that, armed with the definition and the distinction, we can sort actions into those that are morally obligatory, morally permissible, and morally forbidden. The main task of the lecture is to show that ambitious Constitutivism has these implications because of the modal conception of ideality that lies at its core. The supplementary aim is to show that, because the modal conception of ideality is inherently vague, there are limits to what we can legitimately say in normative ethics. The lecture will close with some speculation about how we should revise our normative ethical ambitions.

27 November 2018, 4-6pm, China in the World Theatre

Bio: Born and raised in Australia, Michael Smith studied philosophy at Monash University (1972-1979), and Oxford University (1981-1984). While at Oxford, Smith read for the BPhil and DPhil in philosophy, working closely with R. M. Hare, Jennifer Hornsby, and Simon Blackburn. Smith went on to teach philosophy at Monash University (1984-5), Princeton University (1985-9), and Monash University again (1989-94), before moving to a full-time research position in the Philosophy Program at the Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University (1995-2004). While at ANU, Smith became Professor of Philosophy in 1997, and Head of the Division of Philosophy and Law at RSSS in 1998. He was elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities in 1997, Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia in 2000, and he was awarded the Centenary Medal for service to Australian society and humanities in the study of philosophy in 2003. In 2004, Smith returned to teach at Princeton, where he was named McCosh Professor of Philosophy in 2009, and served as Chair of the Department 2012-18. Smith was elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2013. In 2016 he received the Distinguished Alumni Award for the Faculty of Arts at Monash University. In 2017 he became Distinguished Visiting Focus Professor in Monash University Philosophy Department's Focus Program on Belief, Value, and Mind, a position he will occupy until the end of 2019.

Smith's current research focuses on topics in ethics, moral psychology, philosophy of action, political philosophy, and philosophy of law. His John Locke Lectures, given at Oxford University in 2017, span all these topics, and those lectures will appear in due course under the title A Standard of Judgement. Smith is also the author of The Moral Problem (1994) (which won the American Philosophical Association Book Prize), and Ethics and the A Priori: Selected Essays on Moral Psychology and Meta-Ethics (2004). He is also the co-author of Mind, Morality and Explanation: Selected Collaborations (2004), a collection of papers written in various combinations by Smith and his two long-time colleagues, Frank Jackson and Philip Pettit.

Also, Professor Michael Smith will deliver a masterclass,on some of his work, on the 28th of November, 2pm -5:30pm in the Benjamin Library.

To register visit: www.bit.ly/jacksmart

There will be a reception after the event, and dinner following that, to which all are invited. Please contact Sophie.Napier@anu.edu.au to register your interest in attending.





Updated:  21 November 2018/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications