Research Seminar

Klemens Kappel: The Epistemic Significance of Convergence in Ethical Theory

Date: 21 June 2023
Time: 10:00-11:45

Venue: Institutet för framtidsstudier, Holländargatan 13, 4th floor, Stockholm

Research seminar with Klemens Kappel, Professor at the Department of Communication, University of Copenhagen.

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The ethical theories that we have most confidencein—welfarist consequentialism, Kantianism, contractualism, common sensemorality, and virtue ethics—appear to converge on the same practical advice inmany situations. Perhaps we should not be very confident about any ethical theory. 

Yet, when told that the major theories actually agree in their practicalguidance across many ordinary circumstances, this should assure us in what theyagree upon. Or should it? Why should the fact that our major ethical theoriesconverge make us more confident about what they assert? That’s the mainquestion we pursue in this paper. 

As the question is only sparsely addressed inthe existing literature, we start by detailing various kinds and structures ofconvergence and propose a specific way to think about the epistemicsignificance of convergence. The remainder of the paper is primarily negative.We will argue that even granting non-skeptical assumptions that are common incurrent moral epistemology, the epistemic significance of convergence is muchharder to explain than most of us probably think.

The paper presented is co-authored with Andreas Christensen, Frederik J. Andersen and Victor Lange - all at the University of Copenhagen.


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