[SydPhil] USyd Postgrad Colloquium June 2: Millie Churcher: 'Transformative Imaginings: When Adam met Sally'

Elena Walsh elenawalsh at gmail.com
Tue May 27 04:41:54 AEST 2014

 Dear all,
The next USyd philosophy postgraduate colloquium  will be held on Monday
June 2 @ 2pm in the Muniment room (Quadrangle building, University of
Sydney).  All very welcome!!

Talk details:

Speaker:  Millie Churcher

Title:  Transformative Imaginings:  When Adam Met Sally

Early modern sentimentalist philosopher Adam Smith argues for a conception
of morality grounded in sentiment rather than in pure reason. Our ability
to sympathise with others is what binds us together as moral agents and
motivates us to act ethically. On Smith’s account sympathy refers to the
psychological mechanism or capacity through which we understand, and
identify with, what another person is feeling. This process relies heavily
on our capacity for imaginative perspective-taking.  In this paper I defend
the value of sympathy – and by extension, Smith’s moral sentimentalism ­-
against those who argue that our capacity to feel for devalued social *groups
*is too limited for sympathy to have any real ethical and political import. I
argue that the scope of our fellow-feeling can be dramatically enlarged in
instances where sympathy with another disrupts and transforms one’s
imaginary body.  Drawing on Sally Haslanger’s reflections upon her lived
experience of transracial parenting (2005) I conclude that sympathetic
identification with an individual whose body is marked as ‘different’
within a society can be deeply transformative for the sympathiser, which
sees feelings of good-will generated in intimate contexts of parenting,
romantic partnerships or friendships extend out towards wider
socio-political groups.

All very welcome.
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