[MaFLa] invitation to a talk on 'Helping it' by Helen Steward - 15 January, 5.30 PM

Krisztina Biber biberk at ceu.hu
Wed Jan 9 08:16:33 CET 2013

The CEU Department of Philosophy cordially invites you to a talk 
(as part of its Departmental Colloquium series)
Helen Steward (University of Leeds) 
'Helping it'
Tuesday, 15 January, 2012, 5.30 PM, Zrinyi 14, Room 412
There is a long-standing debate in the literature on moral
responsibility about the general idea that there is some sort of control
condition on our assignment of blameworthiness to agents. In this paper,
I try to defend the claims of a very ordinary, everyday locution to
offer the best means  of formulating a version of the control principle
that stands some chance of fitting with our ethical intuitions. The
locution whose merits I intend to champion is the ‘can’t help it’
locution, as used in the phrase ‘I can’t help it’, I couldn’t help it’,
‘I can’t help that’, etc.. Because the locution is in a certain sense
colloquial, it tends to be avoided in philosophical discussion when
getting down to precise details – though it often appears in initial,
stage-setting statements of the philosophical problems surrounding the
issue of control and blame. My claim here will be that none of the
commonly utilised  locutions with which it tends to be replaced is able
properly to express the sorts of things we can express by saying, for
example, ‘I couldn’t help it’. Being able to help it, I shall argue, is
a distinctive and important power, and for a number of significant
reasons, no other way of saying what kind of control is needed for
blameworthiness will do as well.

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