Faculty Fellow Talk: Charlotte Witt "Norms as Expertise"

Thursday, February 27, 2020
12:40 PM - 2:00 PM
MUB 302
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Umans, Katie
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How do norms enter the social world? In Norms as Expertise:  A Neo-Aristotelian Interpretation of Social Normativity Professor of Philosophy Charlotte Witt develops the idea that we can look to artisanal expertise and technique (or Afunctions) as a model for answering the question.   Just as a cook ought to weigh ingredients and a carpenter ought to use a level, so, too, a Professor ought to grade fairly and a President ought to protect and defend the Constitution.  Her central claim is that these “ought tos” stem from the individual’s social position (as a cook, Professor or President) rather than, as many contemporary ethical theorists think, from the individual’s endorsement, self-legislation or preference for the norm.  The Afunction interpretation of social norms sheds new light on the normative dimension of social structures, and the way in which they impinge, shape and enable our social activity. 


The Center for the Humanities annually hosts a series of informal lectures featuring the recipients of the previous year’s faculty fellowships. The talks focus on the fellows’ research. They provide an opportunity for faculty members to learn more about each other’s work and allow the Center to show off some of the intellectual riches it has helped foster. The goal of the series is to create a collegial environment that encourages discussion. 

photo of Professor Charlotte Witt
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