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Department Colloquia

Colloquium: Laura Valentini

Abstract: The notion of a claim right—with its counterparts “directed duty” or “duty owed to another”—is frequently used in moral discourse, for the purpose of designating a specific and important deontic attribute. I argue that this notion is not fit for this purpose. I show that the concept of a claim right is associated with a family of such attributes (e.g., the powers to demand, waive, and enforce the performance of duties) as well as with the justifications for conferring them on individuals.

Colloquium: Tamar Schapiro

Most philosophers agree that when we act in a weak-willed way, e.g., indulging an appetite against our better judgment, we are not simply being overpowered by an external force. Weak-willed action, though weak, is still in some sense willed. And yet it is also weak. I argue that philosophers have underestimated the difficulty of explaining the sense in which it is weak, and I offer my own account, which draws on the details of my theory of inclination.

Colloquium: Angela Potochnik

Levels of organization and their use in science have received increased philosophical attention of late, including challenges to the well-foundedness or widespread usefulness of levels concepts. One kind of response to these challenges has been to advocate a more precise and specific levels concept that is coherent and useful. Another kind of response has been to argue that the levels concept should be taken as a heuristic, to embrace its ambiguity and the possibility of exceptions as acceptable consequences of its usefulness.

Colloquium: Robin Dembroff

Decades of feminist theory have approached the question ‘what is gender?’ with an eye to gender as a system— in particular, the system that creates and sustains patriarchy. Using this approach, feminists have proposed theories of gender focused on the social positions that persons occupy within a patriarchal system. These analyses almost uniformly assume a gender binary (men & women), and so look for corresponding, binary social positions.