Lauener Foundation for Analytical Philosophy
Thursday 25 August - Friday 26 August 2022
Haus der Universität, Bern, Switzerland
9th International Lauener Symposium on Analytical Philosophy
on Themes from Susan Wolf
Dr. Matthieu Queloz
Concepts and the Place of Morality
What reasons do we have to use certain concepts and conceptions rather than others? Approaching that question in a methodologically humanistic rather than Platonic spirit, one might seek “reasons for concept use” in how well concepts serve the contingent human concerns of those who live by them. But appeals to the instrumentality of concepts in meeting our concerns invite the worry that this yields the wrong kind of reasons, especially if the relevant concerns are nonmoral ones. Drawing on Susan Wolf’s work on the moral/nonmoral distinction and the neglected role of reasons of love, I argue that this worry is misplaced, and in fact overlooks some of our most important reasons to prefer certain concepts over others. Yet a lingering worry remains, namely that the value of concepts does not just lie in what they are good for. Drawing on another strand in Wolf’s work, I then explore the question whether concepts can be valuable good-for-nothings, and show how this ultimately also underscores the importance of reasons of love as reasons for concept use.