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Aness Webster

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Arts

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Biography

  • 2016: PhD in Philosophy, University of Southern California [Dissertation Chair: Gary Watson]
  • 2007: MA in Philosophy, University of Auckland
  • 2005: BA (Hons) in Philosophy, University of Auckland
  • 2003: BA/LLB (Conjoint), University of Auckland

Teaching Summary

My teaching interests include: Philosophy of Law, Ethics, and Philosophy of Action.

I am on leave in the Autumn Semester of 2017-2018.

In the Spring Semester of 2017-2018, I will be teaching a new third-year module on Advanced Topics in Social Philosophy.

I have taught:

  • A Masters course on Normative Ethics
    • We focused on the extent to which an ethical theory should be action-guiding.
    • I used the issue of action-guidingness to inform our thoughts about various objections to Consequentialism (including the Demandingness Objection and the Cluelessness Objection) as well as the Ought-Implies-Can principle.
  • A third-year undergraudate course on Free Will and Philosophy of Action
  • A second-year undergraduate course on Philosophy of Race (Spring 2016 and Spring 2017)
    • We explore questions such as:
      • Is race a natural kind or a social kind?
      • What are the implications of race being a social kind?
      • Should we eliminate the concept of race from our thought, speech, and practice?
      • What is racism? What is implicit (racial) bias and (racial) stereotype threat? Is implicit (racial) bias racist? How do these affect social structure and what are their implications for justifiability of affirmative action?
      • What are some similarities and differences between race and other social kinds, such as gender, class, and disability?
  • A first-year undergraduate course on Critical Thinking (University of Auckland)

I am currently designing a new class on philosophical issues in the law, focusing on causation, intention, property, to be introduced for third-years and would be particularly suitable for those thinking of attending law school.

I am also interested in teaching a postgraduate course on philosophy of action (and its interaction with ethics, rationality, epistemology, law, and philosophy of mind).

Research Summary

My main research interest in value theory, broadly construed: ethics, rationality, philosophy of action, epistemology, and philosophy of law. I would be willing to supervise PhD research in any of… read more

Recent Publications

  • ANESS WEBSTER, JONATHAN MCKEOWN-GREEN and GLEN PETTIGROVE, 2015. Conjuring Ethics from Words Noûs. 49(1), 71-93
  • ANESS WEBSTER, IMRAN AIJAZ and JONATHAN MCKEOWN-GREEN, 2013. Burdens of Proof and the Case for Unevenness Argumentation. 27(3), 259-282
  • ANESS WEBSTER, 2009. Review of Equality and Legitimacy by Wojciech Sadurski Australian Journal of Legal Philosophy. 34, 266-268

Current Research

My main research interest in value theory, broadly construed: ethics, rationality, philosophy of action, epistemology, and philosophy of law. I would be willing to supervise PhD research in any of these areas (including the intersections of these areas). I also have a research interest in social philosophy, in particular, philosophy of race.

In ethics, I'm particularly interested in the desiderata for normative ethical theories. One issue I am currently exploring is whether or not and to what extent an adequate ethical theory should provide action-guidance. This issue has, I suggest, implications on other issues in normative ethics, such as ought-implies-can, cluelessness objection and the demandingness objection. The latter issue is the topic of another project in which I argue that there are two different sorts of demandingness. I attempt to show that only one sort poses a problem and that the other can be adequately answered by certain kinds of consequentialist theories.

I am also interested in the nature of intentions. Bratman's view that intentions do not reduce to desire-belief sets is a widely accepted view. But I argue that some of the objections against the Desire-Belief views of intention can be undermined. Currently, I am working on a paper which develops (but ultimately rejects) an objection against the Desire-Belief View that argues that it is not compatible with some views on the moral significance of intention.

I recently defended a dissertation on philosophy of law. The dissertation concerns whether there is a principled distinction between criminal law and tort law. I defend a two-pronged account of the distinction. The first prong concerns two different notions of responsibility: blameworthiness and agency. I argue that blameworthiness is implicated in criminal wrongdoing, but not in tortious wrongdoing. By agency, I mean a thinner notion of responsibility which has to do with whether the act can be attributed to the agent. The second prong concerns different accounts of rights. I argue that this second prong is needed because without it, we would be committed to the claim that all crimes are torts (since blameworthiness entails agency).

Since teaching a second-year philosophy of race course, I have been exploring the notion of shame and racism. I have been thinking about the ways in which being a minority can lead to shame to unpack the phenomenology of being a racial minority. I'm also working on a theory of disability (with Katharine Jenkins). We defend a new social-constructionist theory of disability, sparked by Elizabeth Barnes' influential The Minority Body.

Other works in progress include a paper on determinism (which attempts to undermine the focus on determinism in the free will debate by arguing that determinism, by itself, does not pose a unique threat to the existence free will), and a paper on intellectual property (both co-authored with Jonathan McKeown-Green).

  • ANESS WEBSTER, JONATHAN MCKEOWN-GREEN and GLEN PETTIGROVE, 2015. Conjuring Ethics from Words Noûs. 49(1), 71-93
  • ANESS WEBSTER, IMRAN AIJAZ and JONATHAN MCKEOWN-GREEN, 2013. Burdens of Proof and the Case for Unevenness Argumentation. 27(3), 259-282
  • ANESS WEBSTER, 2009. Review of Equality and Legitimacy by Wojciech Sadurski Australian Journal of Legal Philosophy. 34, 266-268

Department of Philosophy

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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