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14:00 — Opening Address
Harisan Unais Nasir
14:15 — Institutions, Luck, and Reciprocity
Shalom Chalson (NTU)
Abstract: Egalitarianism is the thesis that justice requires equality. Egalitarians tend to demand that inequalities be minimised. When considering the elimination of inequalities, four questions arise: what are the grounds, scope, site, and currency of equality? I am concerned with the first of those questions. Which principle motivates and restrains our pursuit of distributive justice? I will briefly consider the extents to which luck egalitarianism (LE) and democratic egalitarianism (DE) address the internal pressures of theories of justice. I will then argue that Kok-Chor Tan’s account, Institutional Luck Egalitarianism (ILE), provides a satisfactory account of distributive justice. I will then outline criticisms from G.A. Cohen, Rekha Nath, and Jonathan Quong. And in response, I will argue that aspects of democratic reciprocity and luck egalitarianism may be combined under ILE. In addition, I suggest that ILE be given a political basis. I will argue that through this move, ILE would be better positioned than either LE or DE to deal with the internal pressures of distributive justice.
15:00 — An Epistemology of Temporally Unstable Group Agents
Will Zhang Chen (NUS)
Abstract: A group agent is, in some sense, an aggregation of individual member agents, and a group belief is, in some sense, an aggregation of individual members’ beliefs. Do group agents face similar epistemic norms as do individual agents? I have the niggling suspicion that the relationship between group metaphysics and group epistemology gives a more complicated picture than the relationship between individual metaphysics (of the Self) and individualistic epistemology. Crucially – relative to individual agents – groups, their members, and their member beliefs are often temporally unstable in some ways. I examine how such temporal instability informs how we should determine whether there are (irreducibly) diachronic norms for group agents. I argue that whether individual agents face (irreducibly) diachronic norms does not help us determine whether groups agents face such norms. Then I suggest and assess some standalone arguments for whether group agents should face irreducibly diachronic norms. (I hope that my discussion will generate some interesting connections with the Discursive Dilemma.)
15:45 — Are There Good Reasons to Prefer Genetically-related Children?
Harisan Unais Nasir (NTU)
16:30 — Dinner and Networking Session
17:30 — Normative Ethics in Political Philosophy: Challenges for the “Political Not Metaphysical” Turn
Patrick Wu (Yale-NUS)
Abstract: Phillip Pettit has drawn on a republican tradition in order to articulate a conception of the state as primarily oriented towards pursuing freedom, understood as non-domination. In his framework, domination constitutes a harm that the state ought to alleviate. He explicitly treats this ideal as a political one, but I argue that there does not exist a political domain of life, distinct from the other spheres of our life. I therefore examine the consequences of Pettit’s theory throughout other domains of life, contending that non-domination crowds out many other conceptions of the good and thereby lies in tension with pluralism.
18:15 — The Evolutionary Function of Moral Cognition: Past and Present
Ain Zainal (NTU)
Abstract: The Free-Rider Problem is a problem of market failure that occurs when too many individuals take advantage of a common good without paying for it. Essentially then, the FRP shows how there is an incentive to defect instead of cooperating within a group of cooperating individuals, since the act of defecting will bring about more rewards. Furthermore, the consumption of that good cannot be restricted and is dependent on the good will of the individuals involved. In the long run, the large-scale exploitation of the FRP will result in the tragedy of the commons. Here, I will argue that Man’s Moral Cognition has served an evolutionary function in the past that battles the Free-Rider problem by encouraging Genuine-Trust behaviours over Incentive-Based behaviours. This is exhibited by how Natural Selection, Sexual Selection and Punitive Social Selection select for such morally-motivated behaviours in our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Furthermore, I will argue that Moral Cognition continues to serve this adaptive function today with respect to the Free-Rider problems that persist with greater urgency in today’s modern, large-scale societies.
19:00 — Closing Address
Tan Si En (NUS)