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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

ABD Workshop

The ABD workshop facilitates the professional development of graduate students by providing an opportunity for students to present and receive feedback on their work. ALL faculty and graduate students are encouraged to attend.

Meetings will be in 538 Hall of Languages.

For scheduling or further information, please contact Verena Erlenbusch-Anderson

SCHEDULE: Spring 2020

Thursday, Feb 20, 6.30pm

Huzeyfe Demirtas, “Moral Responsibility Is Not Proportionate to Causal Responsibility”

Commentators: Hille Paakkunainen, Josh Tignor

Abstract: Some philosophers suggest that moral responsibility is proportionate to causal responsibility. That is, (Proportionality) one’s the degree of moral responsibility for an outcome is proportionate to one’s degree of causal contribution for that outcome. Yet, what causal contribution amounts to is left unclear in the literature. Consequently, the underlying idea in Proportionality is equally unclear, and it’s difficult to see whether Proportionality is true. In this paper, I will suggest various plausible accounts of causal contribution. Some of these accounts are new, some inspired by relevantly similar discussions in the literature. After each of these accounts, I’ll show that Proportionality entails implausible results. I’ll conclude that we should reject Proportionality.

Friday, March 13, 5.30pm

Rose Bell, “Abolishing vs. Queering: Gender Normativity and a Liberatory Project”

Commentators: TBD

Abstract: Feminists have historically targeted gender normativity—i.e. gender norms and normative phenomena, such as normative roles, or standards of masculinity and femininity—as oppressive. To do away with this oppression, the abolitionist view goes, we should do away with gender normativity. But a rich tapestry of normative gender phenomena has arisen in queer and trans communities, including a wealth of new normative gender roles. Some theorists argue that that these subversive or “queered” gender practices should be prioritized in a liberatory project. But what I call the “strict abolitionist position” disagrees. According to the strict abolitionist position, gender norms are fundamentally restrictive and hierarchical, and no theory which aims to free us from this oppression ought to legitimize them in any form. This suggests that the efforts of queer and trans people to carve out spaces for themselves is fundamentally anti-feminist. I argue that this is a theoretically and morally bad result.

In this paper, I argue that strict abolitionism draws from a mistaken view about the metaphysics of gender normativity. That is, what I call role-based ascriptivism explains the existence of gender norms through the existence of normative gender roles. This implies a necessary connection between roles and their prescriptions. I argue that this view is flawed; there are certain normative phenomena that it cannot explain. If a role-based ascriptivism is abandoned, the direct causal connection between gender normativity and oppression disappears. I conclude by outlining an alternative to role-based ascriptivism that preserves the goals of the feminist project.

Thursday, April 2, 6.30pm

Nikki Fortier, Title TBD

Commentators: TBD


The ABD Workshop is read-ahead format. The appropriate length for papers ranges from conference length (3,000 words) to publication length (5,000-8,000 words), but not more than maximum length standard for publication (10,000 words).


9 days in advance: A reliable draft is due from the speaker to the commentator. At this time, the draft need not be final. However, it should be sufficiently reliable to allow the commentator adequate time to formulate comments.
7 days in advance: The final draft is due to be distributed to the department.
3 days in advance: The comments are due from the commentator to the speaker, allowing the speaker adequate time to formulate replies.


Presentation (20-30 minutes): The speaker presents the work and its place within the larger project. Time constraints prohibit reading the paper. However, they do not prohibit an appropriate summary of the main issues and arguments. If useful, handouts are welcome.
Comments (15 minutes maximum): The commentator presents comments. Comments may be read. If useful, handouts are welcome.
Reply (5-10 minutes): The speaker replies to points and issues raised by the commentator.
Discussion: The paper is open for Q&A and discussion. Appropriate topics include both philosophical issues raised by the paper (content) and issues relevant to professional development (form).