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5/18 – Ian Olasov on Moral Discourse in Everyday Life @ Brooklyn Public Philosophers

May 18, 2016 @ 11:00 am - 7:00 pm

| Free

Here it is – the last talk of the third year at Brooklyn Public Philosophers! I don’t want to overpromise, but let’s just say that I am 100% sure that this will be the best talk yet. And I know that because on Wednesday May 18th at 7:00 P.M., I, Ian Olasov (organizer of Brooklyn Public Philosophers), will be speaking about moral discourse in everyday life, and why you should care about it.

Here’s the abstract:

Moral Discourse in Everyday Life: How We Do It and Why It Matters

What are we talking about when we talk about morality? Is moral discourse just like discourse in any other domain of human inquiry – that is, does it consist primarily in people stating their moral beliefs and trying to get at the moral facts? Or is it somehow different? And if it is, how is it different?

In the middle of the 20th century, the debate over these questions was at the center of moral philosophy, but it has stalled out somewhat in recent years. In this talk, after a bit of scene-setting, I’ll argue that we can begin to make real progress on these (and other) questions in moral philosophy by paying closer attention to moral discourse as it actually occurs in everyday life. I’ll present some results from my ongoing research with a large collection (or corpus) of moral utterances drawn from naturally occurring spoken interaction. First, I’ll describe what I call devices of emotional exportation (ways in which emotions can be snuck into conversations in which they don’t belong), some moral attitudes which are hard to study in captivity, and some problems for the traditional distinction between reason and emotion. Then I’ll briefly demonstrate some of the applications of the corpus to some other philosophical questions – ancient questions about whose interests our conventional moralizing practices represent, and modern questions in feminist moral psychology about whether and how men and women moralize in a different “voice”. Finally, I’ll say a little bit about how we might want to rethink our moralizing practices in light of what the corpus has shown. In particular, I’ll argue that we should reassess our judgments of sanctimoniousness, and take more seriously the costs of moralizing, as we often do, indirectly and through innuendo.

As usual, we meet in the Info Commons lab at the Grand Army Plaza branch of the Brooklyn Public Library.

Bring a friend/date/person you’ve recently had a good moral conversation with! Bring your favorite example of moralizing in everyday life! Share it with your Facebook friends!

See you there, I hope!


May 18, 2016
11:00 am - 7:00 pm
Event Category:


Brooklyn Public Library, Info Commons Lab
10 Grand Army Plaza
Brooklyn, NY 11238 United States


Brooklyn Public Philosophers