The History of Philosophy Workshop is looking forward to resuming its lunchtime meetings this year! Each meeting will consist of a presentation by a graduate student or faculty on a project that they are working on in the history of philosophy, followed by a period of comments/questions from the other participants. The workshop is designed to give grad students and faculty the opportunity to develop ideas and receive helpful feedback on projects/papers in a friendly and low stakes environment.
Here's the info about this week's meeting:
Who: Yu Qiu
What: "Aquinas on Special Obligations" (see below for abstract)
Where: The Maritain Library (Geddes Hall, room 437)
When: Friday, October 29, 12:00-1:00
If you'd like to be among the headcount for (free) lunch, please email Dylan MacFarlane (firstname.lastname@example.org). We hope to see you there!
Abstract: Contemporary ethicists distinguish two kinds of obligations: on the one hand, there are general, or universal obligations, like, as consequentialists argue, the duty of promoting the sum of happiness of all human beings. On the other hand, there are the so-called special obligations, sometimes also called associative obligations or role obligations, like a son’s filial duty of honoring and taking care of his father. From this point of view, Aquinas has a very rich theory of special obligations. Of course, as a medieval philosopher, Aquinas himself would not use the contemporary, analytical term “special obligations"; nevertheless, from Aquinas’s ethical thoughts we can find a lot of resources which could greatly contribute to our understanding of this moral phenomena. Generally speaking, there are two topics in Aquinas’s ethical writings which are especially relevant to the issue of special obligations: one is his discussion of the so-called “potential parts of justice”, while the other is his treatise on the “order of love”, or “order of charity”. My talk will focus on the latter. And the following presentation will be divided into three sections: firstly, I will explain what is an order of love, and how it contributes to our understanding of the nature of special obligations; secondly, I will point out a difficult problem raised from Aquinas’s theory of order of love, which concerns the justification of a particular type of special obligations; finally, I will put forth two possible solutions to the problem.