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Department of Philosophy Colloquium: Regina Rini

Thursday, September 26, 2019
4:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Watson Hall
Room: 517
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The Department of Philosophy Colloquium Series presents

Regini Rini
York University

Microaggression and forward-looking
moral responsibility

Thursday, September 26, 2019

4:00 pm

Watson Hall, Room 517

Microaggressions are relatively minor insulting events, made disproportionately harmful by their participation in an oppressive pattern of similar insults. People who commit microaggressions (and nearly all of us do) are often unaware of what they are doing or unable to control their actions in the moment. Since ignorance and lack of control are famous excusing conditions for moral responsibility, it may seem that people who cause microaggressive harm cannot be held morally responsible. Lately, a range of forward-looking accounts of moral responsibility have been introduced to deal with oppressive harms. A forward-looking account of responsibility is targeted at future actions rather than those already completed. In the paper I show that none of these accounts are fully satisfactory in balancing the competing moral requirements of decency (toward perpetrators) and solidarity (toward victims). I diagnose this failure as falling in a gap between Kantian and Humean accounts of moral agency. Instead I propose an alternative model, Durkheimian agency, which I claim makes most sense of ourselves as moral agents extended across time and social structure.


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