Class Notes (1,100,000)
US (490,000)
PHIL (7)
Lecture 19

PHIL-020 Lecture Notes - Lecture 19: Parabolic Trajectory, Social Philosophy, Gas Lighting

Course Code
Mattingly James

This preview shows half of the first page. to view the full 1 pages of the document.
Lecture 19
Paul Benson: Author of Free Agency and Self Worth
-Provost and Professor of Philosophy, University of Dayton
-Expert on ethics, moral psychology, action theory, and social philosophy
What is it to be a free agent?
-there’s something wrong with normal accounts of free agency
-it means, perhaps, to act freely
-to act freely means there are:
a) no physical constraints
b) no threats/menaces
-to not be able to act freely means that there are interruptions in procedural freedom, impediments
Examples of this “unfreedom” are:
3) Not being able to regulate behavior by means of will
-brain interventions, for example (alteration of brain signals)
4) Able to act willfully but not able to regulate will (or its content)
-hypnosis, addiction, etc. for example
* Note: it is debatable whether coercion is a form of “unfreedom” because it “does not normally obstruct
the agent’s ability to do what she thinks best or what most matters to her” (653)
Discussion Question: Is Superman free?
A: No, he is limited by morality, physical limitations (such as gravity; cannot escape orbit, for example)
Cases of social situations that erode free agency:
b) slavery: feel barred from entering into relations or practices fit for only persons (660)
c) shame: person loses the sense that he is sufficiently respectable or honorable to participate in
certain relationships as he did previously (660)
d) gas lighting*: medically gaslighted woman thinks she cannot relate appropriately or intelligently
to others bc of her alleged mental instability (660)
*All cases result in feeling of reduced statuses*
-you can have all the procedural stuff of being “free”, but you could also not be free
-for example, you could have someone systematically undermine one’s self-worth as a decision-maker,
thus inducing a self-inflicted psychological disorder —> Note: medical gaslighting
-Result: loss of sense of status as worthy; no longer has the autonomy to chose freely
-*to have sense of status is a condition of freedom*
Examples of agency undermining situations:
Note: difference between procedurally and self-worth undermining. For example, gas lighting is self-
worth undermining. Slavery can be both self-worth undermining, but it is mostly seen as procedurally
undermining (physically oppressing another)
Procedurally undermining:
EX: coming to Georgetown, you give up freedoms that you may otherwise have if stayed at home
Self-worth undermining
EX: being in love?
find more resources at
find more resources at
You're Reading a Preview

Unlock to view full version