Patrick Effiong Ben
X (Twitter): @Benblag
Conceptualizing Individual Moral Obligation: A Case for Collectively Insignificant Outcomes
The University of Manchester
Prof. John O’Neill
Dr. Juri Viehoff
My research seeks to address the problem of collective impact — inconsequentialism — vis-à-vis climate change, political participation, and related collective action problems. Julia Nefsky (2017: 2744) articulates an insightful case of collectively insignificant actions as ‘the problem of collective harm’ or “the problem of collective impact,” and the cases of collectively insignificant actions as “collective impact cases.” The issue in collective harm cases captures “the risk of our together bringing about avoidable harm” (Nefsky 2019: 10) by taking a morally harmful course of action or refusing to act in a morally relevant way because of the belief that collectively, our singular good acts will make no difference. This view can also be referred to as the no-effect view. To Nefsky, this way of thinking about the problem stems from a mistaken assumption of the causal insignificance of individual actions.
My research argues, contra Nefsky and extant accounts of collective harm problems, that the ‘problem of collective harm’ goes beyond a mistaken assumption to reveal a poor conceptualisation of individual obligation to act in morally relevant ways, regardless of collectively insignificant outcomes. It aims to establish among other things, why the overriding principle for collectively insignificant actions can best be motivated by an individual moral obligation – IMO – conceptualised as a ‘non-collective fundamental duty’ necessary for the common good. In the context and within the scope of my research, I use IMO to denote responsibility for the collectively harmful impact of a ‘random collection’ of the human species.
Poverty and Inequality,
Social and Political Philosophy.
Publications in peer-reviewed/refereed journals
Ben, Patrick Effiong. 2023. ‘Predeterminism as a category error: Why Aribiah Attoe got it wrong’. South African Journal of Philosophy, vol. 42, no. 1, pp. 13-23. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/02580136.2023.2211824.
Ben, Patrick Effiong. 2022. ‘The Paradox of Ambivalent Human Interest in Innocent Asouzu’s Complementary Ethics: A Critical Inquiry’. Filosofia Theoretica: Journal of African Philosophy, Culture and Religions, vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 89–108. DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.4314/ft.v11i2.7.
Ben, Patrick Effiong. 2022. ‘Consolationism and Comparative African Philosophy: Beyond Universalism and Particularism, by Ada Agada’. International Journal of African Renaissance Studies – Multi-, Inter- and Transdisciplinarity, vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 226-230. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/18186874.2022.2105734.
Publications in blogs/public philosophy
Ben, Patrick Effiong. 2020. ‘The Anti-Racists Purge Must Begin From Within’. The Conversational Society of Philosophy. [Online] Available from: https://cspafrica.org/the-anti-racists-purge-must-begin-from-within/.
Ben, Patrick Effiong. 2020. ‘Tail of Masculinity’. Writers Resist. [Online] Available from: https://www.writersresist.com/2020/07/23/tail-of-masculinity/.
Benblag, Patrick. 2016. ‘Why Premarital sex is not immoral’. The Nation, September 19, 2016. [Online] Available from: https://thenationonlineng.net/premarital-sex-not-immoral/.
Selected Conference Presentations (Invited)
‘Thinking Beyond Bivalence: Ezumezu and the Future Direction of Logic’. — São Paulo School of Advanced Science on “Contemporary Logic, Rationality, and Information” — SPLogIC, February 6-17, 2023, at the University of Campinas (Universidade Estadual de Campinas) (UNICAMP), Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil.
‘Moral Intheses: Towards Conversational Ethics’. — Philosophical Society of Southern Africa (PSSA) Conference, January 16–18, 2023, at the University of Johannesburg, Auckland Park, South Africa.
‘Individual Moral Obligation: An Approach to Sustainability’. — Boston University Graduate Student Philosophy Conference on Sustainability and Environmental Ethics, April 21-22, 2022, at Boston University College of Arts and Sciences, Boston, MA, USA. [Paper was one of the 7 papers selected on merit and originality for the 7 presentation spots available for the conference]
Ben, Patrick. October 1, 2022. TEDx University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa. ‘Why Africa is Poor’. [Online] Available from: https://youtu.be/wR7N433E_rE.