39TH ANNUAL MIDWEST PHILOSOPHY COLLOQUIUM
THEME: FREE WILL AND MORAL RESPONSIBILITY
“Obligation and Luck”
I argue that obligation is often subject to luck because obligation requires that we could have refrained from doing what we did, and frequently we could not have refrained from acting as we did—we could not have done otherwise—owing to luck. If obligation succumbs to luck in this way, we should be much more cautious about our judgments concerning right and wrong. Contrary to what we may initially believe, perhaps a person failed to do anything that it was right, or wrong, or obligatory for her to do since, due to luck, she could not have done otherwise.
About the Speaker
Ishtiyaque Haji, formerly professor of philosophy at the University of Minnesota Morris, is now professor of philosophy at the University of Calgary. His areas of research include ethical theory, philosophical psychology, and the metaphysics of free will. He is the author of Moral Appraisability (1998), Deontic Morality and Control (2002), Moral Responsibility, Authenticity, and Education (2008) (with Stefaan Cuypers), Freedom and Value (2009), Incompatibilism's Allure (2009), and Reason's Debt to Freedom (2012). He is also co-editor (with Justin Caouette) of Free Will and Moral Responsibility (2013).
“How Free Are We? A Compatibilist's View”
How should we understand human agency in the world in light of the prospect that human beings are simply part of the natural causal order? Is free will possible, or does it require that persons are in some way special or distinct from the natural processes situating the rest of our world? I argue for the thesis of compatibilism according to which free will is still possible even under the assumption of naturalism. Moreover, and as a result, persons can still be regarded as morally responsible for what they do, as beings with dignity or worth, and as creatures whose lives can have meaning.
About the Speaker
Michael McKenna is professor and Keith Lehrer Chair of philosophy at University of Arizona. He is the author the Conversation and Responsibility (2012), along with numerous articles on free will and moral responsibility.