The Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights
Faculty of Law
P.O. BOX 4 (visiting address: Yliopistonkatu 3)
Tel: +358 (0)29 4123140



"The Place of Badiou's Ethics"

ECI Brown Bag Seminar by Guilherme Vasconcelos Vilaça

When: 12:15 pm – 2 pm on Thursday 28 November 2013 (New Time)

Where: Room P668 (Yliopistonkatu 3, Porthania 6th Floor)

The Place of Badiou's Ethics


In his Ethics, Badiou writes against ideal, abstract and rule-based conceptions of ethics. As in some pragmatic ethics, this implies denying the received moral vocabulary and focus instead on agency. Thus, Badiou’s Ethics is often read as a radical statement in today’s normative landscape. This paper evaluates this claim.
In particular, it questions the extent to which an ethical approach that idealizes the particular situation through the idea of “fidelity to the event” is non-ideal and radical. Three points are problematic. First, one has to discover actual “events” that demand ethical action; but who can tell us what an event is? Second, one has to be “faithful” to those events; but it is unclear whether Badiou allows for “evil” events. And interrelated, three, how can a non-ideal and radical ethical approach be premised on the idea of truth?
Put simply, this paper claims that while Badiou seems to perform a radical shift in contemporary moral reasoning, his contribution is more ambiguous. He seems merely: (i) to replace the truth of general morality for the truth that binds the agent to the event; and, (ii) to replace the role of moral philosophers in devising moral rules for the role of the individual that defines what counts as an event.

Guilherme Vasconcelos Vilaça
is currently working as a Postdoctoral Researcher in Academy Professor (Martti Ahtisaari Chair) Jan Klabbers's research project "Towards a Credible Ethics for Global Governance" at the Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Helsinki.

The event is open to everyone. Coffee & sandwiches will be provided, so please register no later than on Tues. 26 Nov. at .

A draft version of Guilherme's article will be sent to registered participants on Tue 26 Nov.