Philosophical question of moral supervenience to be explored in talk

contact: Mark Schwerin
| WMU News
Photo of Dr. Geoff .


KALAMAZOO—A distinguished professor from the University of North Carolina will visit the Western Michigan University campus next month to explore the question of moral supervenience.

Dr. Geoff Sayre-McCord, the Morehead-Cain Alumni Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will share his views at 5:15 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7, in 2016-18 Fetzer Center. The discussion, free and open to the public, is titled "The Moral Grounds of Moral Supervenience" and is part of the Center for the Study of Ethics in Society's fall season.

Supervenience is a central notion of analytic philosophy. It is used to describe cases in which the lower-level properties of a system determine its higher-level properties. Sayre-McCord argues that the supervenience of the moral on the non-moral is a reflection of a moral constraint, not a metaphysical dependence, as many moral realists assume, nor a merely pragmatic restriction on moral judgment, as some moral anti-realists argue.

Sayre-McCord has published extensively on moral theory, epistemology and modern philosophy and has edited the books "Essays on Moral Realism" and "Hume: Moral Philosophy." Recently, his research has focused on the nature of normative concepts, evolution and morality and on Adam Smith's theory of moral sentiments. He is the director of UNC's Philosophy, Politics and Economics Program.

Sayre-McCord's visit is co-sponsored by the WMU Department of Philosophy.

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