Morality and Choice


There is a long-standing challenge in ethical theory, what Henry Sidgwick has called the ‘profoundest problem’: that practical reason is dual, that prudence and morality cannot be fit together into one coherent framework in which their conflict is rationally resolved. At the same time, using, reinterpreting and transforming the Arrow-Sen social choice theoretical framework, Susan Hurley - most prominently in her book Natural Reasons (1989) - has argued that coherence can be established among our reasons and their conflicts thus be resolved. However, despite enjoying significant resurgence in recent years, present-day theorising about reasons has more or less forgotten about Hurley and her social choice-inspired approach. We would like to pick up the threads in this workshop and bring together experts in both fields - social choice and practical reasons - to see how and if we could recast the social choice debate in the reasons-framework so that we can tackle the ‘profoundest problem’ in ethics and thereby diffuse Sidgwick's fear of the dualism of practical reason.



  • John Broome
  • Krister Bykvist
  • Franz Dietrich
  • Natalie Gold
  • Marina Moreno
  • Michael Morreau
  • Wlodek Rabinowicz
  • Andrew Reisner
  • Justin Snedegar
  • Johanna Thoma



Thursday 22 February

9.00-9.30 – Welcome
9.30-10.45 – John Broome (Oxford); "Is there reason?" (Chair: Joshua Gert)
10.45-12.00 – Krister Bykvist (Stockholm); "Value magnitudes and incomparability" (Chair: Joshua Gert)
12.00-13.30 – Lunch (Hotel Gabelshus)
13.30-14.45 – Franz Dietrich (Paris) & Kai Spiekermann (London); "Generative democracy: towards new foundations for democratic theory" (Chair: David Copp)
14.45-16.00 – Natalie Gold (London); "Reasoning as an individual or as a team: what should I do when the two conflict?" (Chair: David Copp)
16.00-16.15 – Break
16.15-17.30 – Marina Moreno (Munich); "The (im)possibility of prudence: population ethics for person-stages" (Chair: Attila Tanyi)
19.00 –  Dinner (TBA)

Friday 23 February

9.00-9.30 –  Welcome
9.30-10.45 – Michael Morreau (Tromsø) & Attila Tanyi (Tromsø); "Pockets of unity in practical reason: lessons from social choice theory" (Chair: Fredrik Nyseth)
10.45-12.00 – Wlodek Rabinowicz (Lund); "Goodness and numbers" (Chair: Fredrik Nyseth)
12.00-13.30 – Lunch (Hotel Gabelshus)
13.30-14.45 – Andrew Reisner (Uppsala); "Welfarist pluralism: why and how epistemic and pragmatic reasons for beliefs compare" (Chair: Mathea Sagdahl)
14.45-16.00 – Justin Snedegar (St Andrews); "Meddlesome blame and negotiating standing" (Chair: Mathea Sagdahl)
16.00-16.15 – Break
16.15-17.30 – Johanna Thoma (Bayreuth); Non-uniqueness and the normative foundations of rational choice theory" (Chair: Attila Tanyi)
19.30 – Dinner (TBA)


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