Klemens Kappel: The Epistemic Significance of Convergence in Ethical Theory

Datum: 21 juni 2023
Tid: 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 confidence in — welfarist consequentialism, Kantianism, contractualism, common sense morality, and virtue ethics — appear to converge on the same practical advice in many situations. Perhaps we should not be very confident about any ethical theory. 

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

As the question is only sparsely addressed in the existing literature, we start by detailing various kinds and structures of convergence and propose a specific way to think about the epistemic significance of convergence. The remainder of the paper is primarily negative. We will argue that even granting non-skeptical assumptions that are common in current moral epistemology, the epistemic significance of convergence is much harder 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 Copenha gen.

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