Huzeyfe Demirtas

I am a PhD candidate and teaching associate at Syracuse University, Department of Philosophy. I completed my postbaccalaureate studies in philosophy at SUNY Fredonia. And I hold a BS degree in computer science teaching from Firat University.

My primary research interests are moral responsibility and applied ethics (esp. environmental ethics).

At Syracuse, I've taught courses like introduction to ethics, environmental ethics, happiness and meaning in life, theories of knowledge and reality,  logic, and free will.

Click here for my interview with the APA (American Philosophical Association) .

Click here for my interview with the Turkish analytic philosophy magazine, Öncül Analitik Felsefe Dergisi.

CV

Specialization

Ethics, Applied Ethics (esp. Environmental Ethics)

Competencies

Epistemology, Metaphysics, Classical Islamic Philosophy, Political Philosophy

Education

2016 - Present
Syracuse University

PhD Candidate & Teaching Associate

Dissertation: An Argument for Responsibility Internalism

Committee: Sara Bernstein, Ben Bradley (primary), Mark Heller, Hille Paakkunainen

Dissertation Abstract: I argue for internalism in moral responsibility. It’s widely accepted that responsibility is grounded in three potential factors: control, awareness, and consequences. I argue that consequences are irrelevant for moral responsibility and the other two factors depend only on features internal to agents.

2015-2016
SUNY Fredonia

Postbaccalaureate in Philosophy

2004-2009
Firat University

BS in Computer Science Teaching

Publications

Forthcoming

'Moral Responsibility Is Not Proportionate to Causal Responsibility'

The Southern Journal of Philosophy

2022

'Against Resultant Moral Luck'

2022

'Causation Comes in Degrees'

2020

Talks

Speaker (*=refereed)

Forthcoming

*‘Take a Stand, You Don’t Have to Make a Difference’

International Society for Environmental Ethics,
APA Eastern Division Meeting 2023

June 2022

*‘Wrong but Praiseworthy, Right but Blameworthy’

Rightness, Ignorance, Uncertainty, and Praise Workshop
University of Southern California

April 2022

*‘Wrong but Praiseworthy, Right but Blameworthy’

72nd Annual Meeting of the New Mexico Texas Philosophical Society
Baylor University

Feb 2022

'Wrong but Praiseworthy, Right but Blameworthy'

ABD Workshop Series 2022
Syracuse University

Jan 2022

*’Causation Comes in Degrees’

APA Eastern Division Meeting 2022

Sep 2021

*’Causation Comes in Degrees’

Society for the Metaphysics of Science, 6th Annual Conference

July 2021

*’Against Resultant Moral Luck’

Summer School on Causation and Responsibility
University of Bern

April 2021

*’Against Resultant Moral Luck’

Great Lakes Philosophy Conference—Ethics in Action
Siena Heights University

Jan 2021

*‘Moral Responsibility Is Not Proportionate to Causal Responsibility’

APA Eastern Division Meeting

Nov 2020

’Against Resultant Moral Luck’

Philosophical Society of Fredonia
SUNY Fredonia

July 2020

*’Against Resultant Moral Luck’

94th Joint Session of the Aristotelian Society and the Mind Association
University of Kent

Mar 2020

*‘Causal Contributions and Moral Responsibility’

Midsouth Philosophy Conference  [Canceled]
Rhodes College

Feb 2020

‘Moral Responsibility Is Not Proportionate to Causal Responsibility’

ABD Workshop Series 2020
Syracuse University

Nov 2019

*‘Causal Contributions and Moral Responsibility’

AGENT, Ethics and Normativity Talks
University of Texas at Austin

Jun 2019

*‘Against Proportionality Luck’

International Conference on Ethics
University of Porto

Mar 2019

*‘Against Proportionality Luck’

20th Annual Pitt-CMU Graduate Student Philosophy Conference
University of Pittsburgh & Carnegie Mellon University

Apr 2018

*‘Stocker’s Schizophrenia, Alienation, and a Solution’

Fundamentality in Philosophy, The 7th International
Philosophy Graduate Conference
Central European University, Budapest

May 2017

*‘Against Reliabilism: In the Face of Skepticism’

Northwest Student Philosophy Conference
Western Washington University

Commentator

July 2022

On Jules Salomone-Sehr’s ‘Complicity: A Minimalist Account for Our Maximally Messy Social World’

Vancouver Summer Philosophy Conference

April 2022

On Peter Zuk’s ‘Reconciling Experiential Theories of Pleasure’

72nd Annual Meeting of the New Mexico Texas Philosophical Society
Baylor University

April 2022

On Hannah Winckler-Olick’s ‘Simone de Beauvoir on Value-Creation as a Mode of Complicity’

Centennial Conference of the Creighton Club

Jan 2022

On David Sackris and Rasmus Rosenberg Larsen’s ‘Are There Moral Judgements?’

APA Eastern Division Meeting 2022

Oct 2021

On Joshua Tignor’s ‘Moral Growth and Moral Responsibility’

ABD Workshop Series 2021
Syracuse University

July 2021

On Alex Kaiserman’s ‘Responsibility and the ‘Pie Fallacy’’

Summer School on Causation and Responsibility
University of Bern

Apr 2021

On Perry Hendricks’s ‘The Impairment Argument Reconsidered’

Syracuse Graduate Philosophy Conference

Mar 2019

On Caner Turan’s ‘On Greene’s Evolutionary Challenge to Deontological Ethics’

Syracuse Graduate Philosophy Conference

Works in Progress

A paper on moral rightness and wrongness versus moral praise and blame

Under Review

A paper on the inefficacy problem in collective impact cases

Under Review

Teaching

Syracuse University (Lead Instructor)

Spring 2022

PHI394: Environmental Ethics

Summer 2021

PHI251: Logic

Spring 2021

PHI383: Free Will

Winter 2021

PHI200: Happiness and Meaning in Life

Fall 2020

PHI197: Human Nature   

Summer 2020

PHI107: Theories of Knowledge and Reality 

Spring 2020

PHI251: Logic 

Fall 2019

PHI192: Introduction to Moral Theory

Syracuse University (Teaching Assistant)

Fall 2021

Human Nature (Christopher Noble)   

Spring 2019

Theories of Knowledge and Reality (Janice Dowell)

Fall 2018

Logic (Mark Heller) 

Fall 2017

Introduction to Moral Theory (David Sobel)

Fall 2017

Introduction to Moral Theory (Hille Paakkunainen) 

Spring 2017

Human Nature (Neelam Sethi) 

Fall 2016

Theories of Knowledge and Reality (Robert Van Gulick) 

Academy Language School (in Turkey) (Lead Instructor)

2010-2011

Elementary & Intermediate Level English Course

100. Yil Vocational High School (in Turkey) (Lead Instructor)

Spring 2009

Introduction to Computer Science     

100. Yil Vocational High School (in Turkey) (Teaching Assistant)

Fall 2008

Introduction to Computer Science  

Gazi Vocational High School (in Turkey) (Teaching Assistant)

Spring 2005

Introduction to Computer Science  

Honors & Awards

2022

Summer Research Fellowship

Syracuse University

2021

Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award

Syracuse University

2016

The Philosophical Society, Student Achievement Award

SUNY Fredonia

Service

2020-2021

Senator

Syracuse Graduate Student Organization     

July 2020

Co-Organizer

Syracuse Graduate Philosophy Conference

Graduate Coursework

Ethics (*=audit)

Moral and Political Philosophy (Hille Paakkunainen)

Constructivism in Metaethics (Hille Paakkunainen)

Anti-Realism and Pragmatism in Ethics (Nate Sharadin)

Anti-Theory in Ethics (Independent study with Hille Paakkunainen)

Ethics of Nudging (Independent study with Ben Bradley)

*Motivation (Hille Paakkunainen)

*Animal Ethics (Ben Bradley)

*Free Will (Mark Heller)

*Prudence (Ben Bradley)

Epistemology (*=audit)

Topics in Contemporary Epistemology (Nate Sharadin)

Language, Epistemology, Mind, Metaphysics (K. McDaniel, K. Edwards)

*Epistemology (Hille Paakkunainen)

Metaphysics

Beyond the Modal: Essence and Potentiality (Kris McDaniel)

Metaphysics of Ethics (Ben Bradley, Kris McDaniel)

Political Philosophy

Justice and Equality (Ken Baynes)

Philosophy of Social Sciences (Ken Baynes)

History of Philosophy

History of Philosophy (Frederick C. Beiser)

Classical Arabic Philosophy (Kara Richardson)

Logic and Language

Logic and Language (Michael Rieppel)
Concepts (Kevan Edwards)

Languages

English, Turkish (Native), Arabic (Reading, Intermediate)

Research

Publications

Against Resultant Moral Luck (Forthcoming, Ratio)

Abstract:

Does one’s causal responsibility increase the degree of one’s moral responsibility? The proponents of resultant moral luck hold that it does. Until quite recently, the causation literature has almost exclusively been interested in the binary question of whether one factor is a cause of an outcome. Naturally, the debate over resultant moral luck also revolved around this binary question. However, we’ve seen an increased interest in the question of degrees of causation in recent years. And some philosophers have already explored various implications of a graded notion of causation on resultant moral luck. In this paper, I’ll do the same. But the implications that I’ll draw attention to are bad news for resultant moral luck. I’ll show that resultant moral luck entails some implausible results that leave resultant moral luck more indefensible than it was previously thought be. I’ll also show that what’s typically taken to be the positive argument in favor of resultant moral luck fails. I’ll conclude that we should reject resultant moral luck.

Click here for the PhilPapers page.

Email me for a copy.

Causation Comes in Degrees (2022, Synthese)

Abstract:

Which country, politician, or policy is more of a cause of the Covid-19 pandemic death toll? Which of the two factories causally contributed more to the pollution of the nearby river? A wide-ranging portion of our everyday thought and talk, and attitudes rely on a graded notion of causation. However, it is sometimes highlighted that on most contemporary accounts, causation is on-off. Some philosophers further question the legitimacy of talk of degrees of causation and suggest that we avoid it. Some hold that the notion of degrees of causation is an illusion. In this paper, I’ll argue that causation does come in degrees.

Click here for the penultimate version of my paper.

Epistemic Injustice (2020)

Click here for my entry on epistemic injustice in 1000WordPhilosophy: An Introductory Anthology.


Dissertation Summary

Dissertation Summary

In my dissertation, I argue that moral responsibility in the sense of being praiseworthy or blameworthy depends only on factors internal to agents. My argument goes as follows. In the literature, we find basically three potential conditions for moral responsibility: the control (or freedom) condition, the epistemic (or awareness) condition, and the causal responsibility condition (or consequences). I argue that causal responsibility is irrelevant for moral responsibility, and that the control condition and the epistemic condition depend only on factors internal to agents.

Some philosophers hold that, all else equal, one’s degree of moral responsibility is proportionate to one’s degree of causation (or causal contribution). Call this thesis Proportionality. If causation doesn’t come in degrees, Proportionality is false. So, in chapter one, I discuss whether causation comes in degrees. I argue that it does by showing that all the main objections against graded causation fail and that denying graded causation is theoretically too costly. This chapter of my dissertation is forthcoming in Synthese.

In chapter two, I argue that Proportionality is false despite the fact that causation comes in degrees. To establish this, I employ six plausible criteria for measuring degrees of causation and show that Proportionality understood according to each of these criteria entails implausible results. I also show that there are other plausible theoretical options to account for the kind of cases that motivate Proportionality. This chapter of my dissertation is under review for publication.

In chapter three, I argue that there is no resultant moral luck (RML). What’s at stake in the debate over RML is best cast in terms of whether causal responsibility increases one’s moral responsibility. I draw attention to previously unexplored implications of RML and argue that these implications leave RML more indefensible than it was thought to be. I also show that what’s typically taken to be the positive argument in favor of RML fails. I conclude that we should reject resultant moral luck. This chapter of my dissertation is under review for publication.

Proportionality and RML are the two most plausible positions one could take if causal responsibility is relevant for moral responsibility. Hence, in chapter four, I conclude that causal responsibility is metaphysically irrelevant for moral responsibility, clarify and develop this thesis, and defend it against possible objections.

In chapter five, I argue that neither the epistemic condition nor the control condition presupposes anything external to agents. The epistemic condition rests on the idea, roughly, that one can be morally responsible only if one is aware of certain morally relevant factors. The awareness in question can be knowledge, justified (true) belief, or (true) belief. As it is commonly accepted, knowledge is too strong a requirement for moral responsibility. I follow the reasoning behind this and show that justified (true) belief is also too strong a requirement. I further argue that moral responsibility doesn’t require even true belief. And since the awareness requirement in question presupposes neither justification nor truth, it doesn’t presuppose anything external to agents.

The control condition is the subject matter of the classic free will debate. I survey the leading compatibilist and incompatibilist theories of control and argue that none of them, at least in their most plausible forms, presupposes anything external to agents. A major concern for my argument is that the debate between compatibilists and incompatibilists mainly revolve around determinism. Compatibilists argue that the kind of control required for moral responsibility—i.e., free will—is compatible with determinism, and incompatibilists reject this. Determinism is the idea that at any moment the state of world and the laws of nature entail one unique future. As it stands, determinism is not only a feature internal to agents but a feature of the world. However, I argue, (in)determinism external to agents is irrelevant for the control condition—what matters is only (in)determinism internal to agents. That is, what matters is only whether the mental events in agents are (un)determined, not whether anything else in the universe is.

I conclude that the epistemic condition and the control condition depend only on factors internal to agents. Since I also argued that causal responsibility is irrelevant to moral responsibility, there remains no condition of moral responsibility that depend on anything external to agents. Hence, responsibility internalism is true.


Works in Progress

A paper on proportionality in moral responsibility (Under review)

Some philosophers hold that one's degree moral responsibility for an outcome tracks one's degree of causal responsibility for that outcome. Put differently, all else equal, one's degree of moral responsibility is proportionate to one's degree of causal contribution. Call this thesis Proportionality.

In this paper, I argue that Proportionality is false. In my argument, I employ six different criteria for measuring degrees of causal contribution and show that Proportionality, understood after each of these criteria, entails morally implausible results. I also show that we can account for the kind of intuitions that motivate Proportionality without appealing to this thesis. I conclude that we should reject Proportionality.

This paper is the second chapter of my dissertation and is now under review for publication.

A paper on moral rightness and wrongness versus moral praise and blame (Under review)

In this paper, I argue that one can be blameworthy for performing an action that’s right, and praiseworthy for an action that’s wrong. It’s relatively uncontroversial that basic desert responsibility (being apt for praise or blame) is distinct from responsibility in the duty sense (i.e., what’s morally right/wrong). But the extent to which they come apart can be controversial. For instance, it’s typically accepted one may not be praiseworthy (/blameworthy) for an action that’s morally right (/wrong). Yet, it’s also common to think that one can be praiseworthy (/blameworthy) for an action only if it’s morally right (/wrong). But this is false—or so I argue in a novel argument that I call the Argument from Moral Encouragement.

Take a Stand, You Don't Have to Make a Difference (Polished Draft)

In this paper, I develop a new solution to the problem of inconsequentialism in collective action (or collective harm) cases. To illustrate, consider climate change. We all collectively contribute to its unwanted consequences. But individual actions seem inconsequential: One more or one less person taking a joyride in a gas-guzzler on a Sunday afternoon makes virtually no difference regarding these consequences. But then it’s unclear how there could be moral reasons, let alone duties, for individuals to act against climate change. This is a problem not only for consequentialist theories, but also for Kantian and virtue ethical theories for it’s unclear why it should be unfair, or unvirtuous, to take the joyride if it makes no difference. In response, many authors argue that however insignificant individual contributions might be, they somehow still have moral significance.

I develop a solution that’s contrary to the pull towards this strategy in the literature. I appeal to various real life cases and thought experiments  to draw attention to an underexplored type of action: taking a stand. I show that taking a stand can be morally valuable, and hence morally reason-giving, even if it makes no difference regarding the outcome in question. Hence, I argue, one may have moral reasons for an action even if the action doesn't make any difference. I also explore whether and how well ‘taking a stand’ fits in with various normative ethical theories.

Moral Schizophrenia, Alienation, and a Solution (Polished draft)

In this paper, I develop a new solution to Michael Stocker’s famous charge of schizophrenia against contemporary normative ethical theories. Stocker argues that these theories don’t allow both a psychologically harmonious life and non-alienation from certain important values. Consequently, living a moral life leads either to something akin to self-deception, or to a life bereft of values like friendship, love, family, and fellow feeling. Although Stocker’s challenge has generated a wide literature, certain aspects of the challenge remain less than clear and less than fully appreciated. I present a new interpretation of the challenge and a new solution to it that can be embraced by all the ethical theories. I argue that we can satisfactorily meet the challenge under two assumptions. One, morality isn’t decisive. If moral reasons conflict with reasons from (e.g.) friendship or prudence, morality doesn’t always win. Two, an action can both be motivated and justified by two different and independent considerations at once. I also defend these two assumptions on independent grounds.

Teaching

From Fall 2019 to Spring 2020, I attended Syracuse University’s Future Professoriate Program and I was awarded the Certificate in University Teaching. In 2021, I received the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award in recognition of my achievements in teaching.

Below you'll find a list of courses that I taught on my own and brief descriptions of those courses. You'll also find the screenshots of some student emails and student evaluations.

Courses Taught as Instructor

PHI394: Environmental Ethics (Spring 2022)

Course Description:

This course addresses a range of questions surrounding environmental ethics. We will begin by examining some of the major ethical theories about moral rightness and wrongness. What makes an action morally right or wrong? What considerations do we need to take into account in making moral decisions? We will then address various ethical questions regarding climate change. Does climate change generate moral obligations for individuals or only for governments? If it generates moral obligations for individuals, how demanding are these obligations? After that, we will discuss questions regarding (non-human) animals. Do we have moral duties towards animals? Do animals morally count less than humans or are they morally equal to us? Is it wrong to consume animal products? We will finish the course by addressing moral questions about non-animal objects in nature such as trees and rivers. Do we have moral duties to them? If yes, what further moral implications follow?

PHI251: Logic (Summer 2021, Spring 2020)

Course Description:

After a brief review of basic concepts like validity and soundness, the course covers truth tables and proofs in both statement logic and predicate logic.

Goals:

(1) To improve reasoning skills by practicing within a formal structure. (2) To develop a fuller appreciation of the meanings of English sentences by analyzing their formal structure and tracing their logical consequences. (3) To improve skills in written and oral communication by accomplishing the first two tasks.

 

PHI383: Free Will (Spring 2021)

Course Description:

Is it up to you take this course? Or is it determined beforehand? Or could both of those be true together? Would the absence of prior determination help, or would that just turn your actions into chance events? This course explores the concept of free will, asking: what is it, can we have any, and why should we care?

Goals:

After taking this course, the students will be able to:

… explain and intelligently discuss the major theories of free will.
… formulate and defend their own views on free will.
… better appreciate subtle distinctions and arguments.
… read, write, and converse at a higher level.

PHI200: Happiness and Meaning in Life (Winter 2021)

Course Description:

What does it mean to live a meaningful life? Is a meaningful life a happy life? Can the answers to these questions help us reconcile to all that is wrong with the world? These questions become especially interesting now that we’re going through challenging times where quarantine, anxiety, and limited mobility and sociality are among the defining features of our lives. In this course, we will examine some of the influential philosophical perspectives on the meaning of life and happiness. The course will also aim to improve your critical thinking and writing skills.

PHI197: Human Nature (Fall 2020)

Course Description:

This course covers some of the central topics that concern us as human beings. We will be interested in these topics not only for possible answers. Our journey will be at least as significant, if not actually more, for the genuine questions we will raise along the way. Our journey will also help you develop reasoning and argumentative skills, and learn how to write reasonably and clearly. We will discuss these questions:

  • What is knowledge and how do we obtain it?
  • What sort of cognitive biases do we have? Are we blind to the obvious?
  • What is it that makes us what we are?
  • What is the meaning of life? What, if anything, matters?
  • Is morality objective? Why be moral?
  • Is death bad for us? Can we cheat death?

PHI107: Theories of Knowledge and Reality (Summer 2020)

Course Description:

The primary goal is to help you develop reasoning and argumentative skills. You will learn how to write reasonably and clearly. The secondary goal is to introduce you to the main topics in philosophy. We will discuss these philosophical issues:

  • What is knowledge and how do we obtain it?
  • Do we have free will? Are we morally responsible for our actions?
  • Is there a God?
  • What is a mind?
  • What is it that makes you what you are?

PHI192: Introduction to Moral Theory (Fall 2019)

Course Description:

This course is an introduction to major theories about moral rightness and wrongness, about virtue and vice, and about value and disvalue. We examine historically influential theories in the Western philosophical tradition that continue to be of contemporary interest, such as utilitarian, Kantian, and Aristotelian theories. Along the way, we discuss the relationship between morality and self-interest, as well as some disputed moral issues, such as our duties to non-human animals, the obligations of the affluent towards the poor, the ethics of abortion, hate speech and free speech. We use both historical and contemporary readings.

Goals:

To enable students to (a) gain a basic understanding of major moral theories, and of their merits; (b) gain a firm understanding of core ethical concepts and distinctions; (c) gain a facility for independently grappling with ethical issues in an articulate and informed manner; and (d) gain improved critical reading and analytical writing skills.

Student Emails & Evaluations

Student Email #1

Student Evaluations #1

Student Email #2

Student Evaluations #2

Student Email #3

Student Evaluations #3

Contact

Get in Touch