Department of Philosophy

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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 Supervisor: Gary Watson]
  • 2007: MA in Philosophy, University of Auckland
  • 2005: BA (Hons) in Philosophy, University of Auckland
  • 2003: BA/LLB (Conjoint), University of Auckland

Expertise Summary

I am a member of the Executive Committee for SWIP(UK): Society for Women in Philosophy (UK). I am in charge of the SWIP(UK) Mentoring Scheme for Women (in association with the British Philsophical Association). I have also acted as mentors for Job Market Mentoring Program for Women in Philosophy.

I am a PhD Training Co-ordinatory for the Philosophy Department. I run workshops on all aspects of teaching (how to run sessions, how to mark, how to apply for teaching jobs, etc.). I also oversee a mentoring scheme where faculty members act as teaching mentors for our PGR students.

I am a member of the Department of Philosophy's Equality, Diversity, Inclusion (EDI) committee as well as a member of the School of Humanities EDI committee. I have given professional implicit bias training to senior colleagues in Faculty of Arts at UoN.

I am in charge of the area of Philosophy of Law for PhilPapers.org and oversee the subcategories in that area as well as assistant editors and sub-category editors.

I organised and participated a public panel discussion 'Contemporary Questions: Race and Racism', at the Nottingham Contemporary art gallery, along with Panya Banjoko (poet/writer), Yassmin Abdel-Magied (activist/journalist) and Kristy Warren (University of Leicester).

I was interviewed by a philosopher, Lucas Miotto for his blog, Legal-Phi.

I am on the organizing committee for the annual Legal Philosophy Workshop.

Teaching Summary

My teaching interests include: Normative Ethics, Philosophy of Action (including Agency and Responsibility), Social Philosophy (esp. Philosophy of Race), and Philosophy of Law

This academic year (2020-2021), I am teaching an MA module called 'Philosophical Topics' (Autumn), an MA Module on Ethics focusing on well-being informed by the various ways in which our world is unjust (Spring) and a second-year UG module on Social Philosophy (Spring).

I have taught:

  • A Masters course on Normative Ethics
    • Spring 2018: We focused on the Demandingness Objection and Tim Mulgan's response to it and his novel theory, Combined Consequentialism
    • Autumn 2016: We focused on the extent to which an ethical theory should be action-guiding and whether this issue informs our thoughts about various objections to Consequentialism (including the Demandingness Objection and the Cluelessness Objection) as well as the Ought-Implies-Can principle. (Autumn 2016)
  • A Masters course called "Philosophical Topics" that survey one topic a week including two weeks on different philosophical approaches (history of philosophy and continental philosophy) [Autumn 2020]
  • A third-year undergraduate course on Free Will and Philosophy of Action [Autumn 2016]
  • A third-year undergraduate course on Advanced Topics in Social Philosophy [Autumn 2018]
  • A second-year undergraduate course on Philosophy of Race [Spring 2016 and Spring 2017]
  • A first-year undergraduate course on Critical Thinking (University of Auckland)

Research Summary

My main research interest in value theory, broadly construed: Social Philosophy (esp. Philosophy of Race), Agency and Responsibility, Normative Ethics, and Philosophy of Law. I also am interested in… read more

Recent Publications

  • ANESS WEBSTER and KATHARINE JENKINS, 2020. Disability, Impairment, and Marginalised Functioning Australasian Journal of Philosopy.
  • 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: Social Philosophy (esp. Philosophy of Race), Agency and Responsibility, Normative Ethics, and Philosophy of Law. I also am interested in rationality and epistemology and how issues in those domains connect with issues in ethics.

My work in social philosophy are connected to my interests in other areas (philosophy of agency and responsibility and philosophy of emotions). In one paper, I explore and analyse the ways in which being marginalised can lead to shame to unpack the phenomenology of the lived experiences of people of colour. Another project involves exploring implications of feminist philosophy and critical philosophy of race to autonomy and agency. I'm also working on a theory of disability (with Katharine Jenkins). We propose and defend a new social kind that we call 'individuals with marginalised functioning'. We argue that this new kind opens up new avenues for accounts of disability.

My PhD dissertation examines 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).

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.

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).

Future Research

I'm interested in what our best notion of well-being should be given our non-ideal unjust world? I'd like to think about whether this notion of well-being (arrived at by non-ideal theorising) can be used as the theory of the good in a consequentialist framework.

I'm also interested in what the different views on responsibility for negligence can tell us about responsibility.

  • ANESS WEBSTER and KATHARINE JENKINS, 2020. Disability, Impairment, and Marginalised Functioning Australasian Journal of Philosopy.
  • 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
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Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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