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Ken Shockley (Philosophy): "Who We Are, What We Do, and Why I Owe You a Beer"

Scholars at AK

Friday, February 18, 2011, 4 pm

With the UB Humanities Institute and riverrun

AK café

The aim of this project is to clarify the relation between the obligations we have to other persons and shared social practices. Many of our most basic moral obligations seem directed at other people. I keep my promises to you, for example. While the obligations associated with promising seem universal, we can only make sense of promising within a shared social practice indicating acceptable forms of behavior associated with promising. These obligations only arise within a common context yet as these obligations seem universal the requirement to keep my promise does not appear to be dependent on the context in which that promise was made. Through an examination of the interpersonal commitments and social practices that underlie obligations like promising, this project aims to elucidate the interplay of social context, directed obligations, and the justification of those obligations.

Kenneth Shockley teaches and publishes in ethical theory and environmental philosophy. Most recently his research has focused on group membership and partiality, “thick” moral concepts, and the translation of values into public policy. He received his Ph.D. from Washington University.

This series transforms AK café into an "intellectual salon," joining the University at Buffalo and the center of cultural life in the city. Scholars at AK features lectures by UB faculty who have been awarded Humanities Institute fellowships and provides an opportunity for the University and the Buffalo community to build connections through conversation.

Admission is free. Complimentary hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar are available.