Ulrike Heuer (UCL): "The Point of Exclusionary Reasons"

Event date
15 February 2024
Event time
17:00 - 19:00
Oxford week
HT 5
Goodhart Seminar Room University College

Dr. Ulrike Heuer (UCL)

Dr. Ulrike Heuer, Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy, University College, London, presents the fifth paper of Hilary Term 2024: "The Point of Exclusionary Reasons"



Having an obligation to do something is different from having an ordinary reason to act. When a person is under an obligation, she is required to act accordingly, and perhaps also constrained in pursuing other goals. But what explains the normative difference an obligation makes? There are obligations of very different stripes, and with different historical backgrounds: voluntary obligations (e.g. promissory obligations); obligations that arise from relationships such as being someone’s friend, lover or relative; obligations that are part and parcel of being a member of a social group; role obligations, such as professional obligations, and obligations we have to everyone, strangers and close relations alike, such as obligations to respect their rights. Is there anything shared between the members of this motley crew?

I want to explore the possibility of explaining obligations as ‘protected reasons’, i.e. as combinations of first- and second-order reasons. According to this suggestion, a protected reason to φ is a first-order reason to φ, combined with an exclusionary reason not to be guided by some reasons, R1-Rn, which are excluded from guiding the agent. Does that suggestion help with understanding the special normative role of obligations? It raises many questions of its own which I will explain and try to answer. 



This seminar takes place in the Arthur Goodhart Seminar Room, University College, at 5:00pm on Thursday February 15.

The Room is located in Logic Lane and can be accessed from High St. or Merton St. without having to go through the main entrance to Univ College.

This event is open to anyone. No registration needed.

Pre-reading is desirable and strongly suggested, but not a requirement to attend.


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