New Books in the Arts & Sciences

Celebrating Recent Work by Justin Clarke-Doane

Monday, December 14, 2020  2:15pm Virtual Event from 2:15pm - 3:15pm EST


Free and open to the public

Registration required


The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities

Office of the Divisional Deans in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences

The Department of Philosophy

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New Books in the Arts & Sciences:
Celebrating Recent Work by Justin Clarke-Doane

Morality and Mathematics
By: Justin Clarke-Doane

Justin Clarke-Doane explores arguments for and against moral realism and mathematical realism, how they interact, and what they can tell us about areas of philosophical interest more generally. He argues that, contrary to widespread belief, our mathematical beliefs have no better claim to being self-evident or provable than our moral beliefs. Nor do our mathematical beliefs have better claim to being empirically justified than our moral beliefs. It is also incorrect that reflection on the "genealogy" of our moral beliefs establishes a lack of parity between the cases. In general, if one is a moral antirealist on the basis of epistemological considerations, then one ought to be a mathematical antirealist as well. And, yet, Clarke-Doane shows that moral realism and mathematical realism do not stand or fall together -- and for a surprising reason. Moral questions, insofar as they are practical, are objective in a sense that mathematical questions are not, and the sense in which they are objective can only be explained by assuming practical anti-realism. One upshot of the discussion is that the concepts of realism and objectivity, which are widely identified, are actually in tension. Another is that the objective questions in the neighborhood of factual areas like logic, modality, grounding, and nature are practical questions too. Practical philosophy should, therefore, take center stage.

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Please email [email protected] to request disability accommodations. Advance notice is necessary to arrange for some accessibility needs.

About the Author:

Justin Clarke-Doane is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University. His work has been published in journals including Noûs and Ethics, and his forthcoming book is Morality and Mathematics.

About the Speakers:

David Papineau is Professor of Philosophy of Science at King’s College London and Visiting Presidential Professor at CUNY Graduate Center. He is the author of Knowing the Score: What Sports Can Teach Us About Philosophy (And What Philosophy Can Teach Us About Sports); Philosophical Devices: Proofs, Probabilities, Possibilities, and Sets; and Thinking about Consciousness, among other published works.

Katja Vogt is Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University. Her published works include Desiring the Good: Ancient Proposals and Contemporary Theory; Belief and Truth: A Skeptic Reading of Plato; and Law, Reason, and the Cosmic City: Political Philosophy in the Early Stoa.

Michael Harris is professor of mathematics at Columbia University. He is the author of Mathematics without Apologies and coauthor with Richard Taylor of The Geometry and Cohomology of Some Simple Shimura Varieties and has received a number of prizes, including the Clay Research Award, which he shared in 2007 with Richard Taylor.

Michele Moody-Adams is currently Joseph Straus Professor of Political Philosophy and Legal Theory at Columbia University, where she served as Dean of Columbia College and Vice President for Undergraduate Education from 2009-2011. She is the author of a widely cited book on moral relativism, Fieldwork in Familiar Places:  Morality, Culture and Philosophy. Her current work includes articles on academic freedom, equal educational opportunity, and democratic disagreement.  She is at work on a book tentatively entitled Renewing Democracy, on the political institutions and political culture essential to achieving justice and promoting stability in multicultural democracies.


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