Special Topics in Value Theory: Locating Normativity (PHIL 496/596)
Dr. Nick Laskowski
Tuesdays and Thursdays · 12:30pm–1:45pm · LA5–149
On one way of understanding value theory, it’s an umbrella term for investigations into the nature of goodness, rightness, obligation, reasons, and other ‘normative’ elements that crop up across morality, epistemology, aesthetics, social philosophy, or any other branch of philosophy. Whether it is possible to explain such elements within a secular, naturalistic framework will be the guiding question of this course. Is goodness pleasure? Do our obligations consist in that which brings about social coordination? Can desires explain reasons? Many philosophers think that there are profound obstacles to answering such questions affirmatively. Put another way, participants in this course will explore various challenges to ‘locating normativity’ where science and experience seem to reveal it to be—right here in the natural world. This exploration will involve learning about what makes a theory of value a realist one and just what it means to say that such a theory is a version of naturalism. Several classic families of views in value theory, such as consequentialism, will be assessed to determine their naturalistic credentials.