Victoria Colloquium: March 20th

Title: "Comparativism: The Structure of Practical Reason"

Speaker: Ruth Chang (Rutgers University)

Friday, March 20th at 2:30pm in Fraser Building (Law), Room 152


What are the normative grounds of objectively rational action? That is, what, normatively speaking, makes an action what you have most or sufficient objective reason to do?  Normative theorizing – utilitarianism, deontology, virtue ethics, etc. – can be seen as offering competing answers to this question. This paper ‘goes behind’ substantive normative theories to propose and defend a structural answer to the grounding question to which any correct normative theory should conform. In doing so, it suggests a view about the structure of practical reason itself.

Speaker Bio: 

Professor Chang’s principal research interests lie in normative ethics, metaethics, action theory and moral psychology. She is known for her research on the incommensurability of values and on practical reason and normativity. Her work on ‘hard choices’ and decision-making, in particular, has been presented in many popular venues, including radio, newspaper, and magazine articles as well as a TED talk, which has had over 3 million views. Before her work as a philosopher, Professor Chang worked as a law associate on a (pro bono) death penalty case and several (non pro bono) product liability cases. Chang is also a Landsdowne Fellow and her work will be presented as a part of The University of Victoria’s Landsdowne Lecture Series.