[SydPhil] SHAPE talk this Friday April 19, 10.30am - Sofia Miguens

David Macarthur david.macarthur at sydney.edu.au
Tue Apr 16 18:38:17 AEST 2013

This week’s SHAPE seminar will be by Sofia Miguens (University of Porto, Portugal) who will present a talk titled “What Some Philosophers Wouldn’t Dream of Counting as Part of Their Job – Cora Diamond on ethics and literature”. Her staff webpage is http://mlag.up.pt/?author=6 ; and email: smiguens at letras.up.pt

Diamond’s view of the materials admissible in moral philosophy (Diamond 1991h, Diamond
2006) is bound to strike many analytic philosophers as too broad: they wouldn’t dream of thinking of
them (namely of literature) as ‘part of their job’. This, of course, assumes a conception of the nature of
the such job, one in regard to which Diamond expresses doubts of several kinds. In this paper I will (i)
search for different reasons for those doubts (Diamond 1991d, 1991e, 1991f, 1991g, 1991h) and then
(ii) try to make the connection clear between Diamond’s proposal of a change in ‘the way we want to do
moral philosophy’ and her reading of Wittgenstein on ethical non-sense (Diamond 1991a, 1991b, 1991c,
2000). Finally, I suggest that although Diamond has a strong case defending that the dismissal of
literary materials in moral philosophy marks an untenable ‘neutrality ideal’(Laugier 2006), not every
aspect of her view of the role of literature in moral philosophy is equally compelling. In fact, she recruits
literature for two different purposes: countering the prevailing ‘blindness to blindness’ and countering the
lack of awe in moral thinking, which she wants to connect with ‘the dark and sinister in the human heart’
(Diamond 2000), ‘unspeakability’ and ‘difficulty of reality’ (Diamond 2008). Since these are different
purposes, ‘philosophers who wouldn’t dream of counting literature as part of their job’ might be rejecting
any of various things.

Date: 10.30am, Fri April 19

Place: Philosophy Common Room, Main Quad (USYD)


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