[SydPhil] Liz Harman: Morally Permissible Moral Mistakes

Kristie Miller kristie_miller at yahoo.com
Mon Jul 14 10:30:39 AEST 2014

Dear All,

This coming Thursday’s current projects will be Elizabeth Harman (Princeton) to talk on 
> Morally Permissible Moral Mistakes

> ​In this paper, I argue for a moral category of actions (and omissions) which has been ignored or underappreciated by moral theorists:  morally permissible moral mistakes.  A moral mistake is something that an agent should not do, all things considered, such that the considerations that tell against doing it – that make it something she should not do – are moral considerations.  It is commonly thought that everything we should not do for moral reasons – that is, every moral mistake – is morally wrong.  But, I argue, this is not true.  
> ​I argue that there are morally permissible moral mistakes.  I argue that morally permissible moral mistakes can have some features that may be surprising:  they do not just arise out of reasons of beneficence; they can be morally good things to do; and they can be praiseworthy.  I distinguish the category of morally permissible moral mistakes from several other moral categories with which it might be confused.  I also argue for another category which is the flipside of morally permissible moral mistakes:  behavior that one should engage in, all things considered, for moral reasons; this category includes but is not exhausted by morally required behavior; some morally supererogatory behavior falls into this category as well.
> Finally, I argue that recognizing these two categories is useful in a number of ways.  It helps us to see some features of supererogatory behavior that otherwise are ignored.  It dissolves a puzzle about supererogation.  It makes new moral views available to us.  It makes new interpretations of our own and others’ commitments possible.  And it enables us to make sense of combinations of views that otherwise appear inconsistent.

As usual, papers are in the Muniment room at 3.00.

Hope to see you all there. 

Associate Professor Kristie Miller
Senior ARC Research Fellow
School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry and
The Centre for Time
The University of Sydney
Sydney Australia
Room 407, A 14

kmiller at usyd.edu.au
kristie_miller at yahoo.com
Ph: +612 9036 9663

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