London Branch Seminar

Agency: The Constraint of Instrumentality
Rachel Wahl (University of Virginia)

5.30-7.00 pm
Enhancing agency is typically viewed as unquestionably good – and for good reason. Democracy requires engaged citizens who believe they have the ability and the responsibility to work toward justice.  But a focus on individual agency has a dark side. For if people feel that they can change the world, then they also often feel that they must. This can engender a perception that the individual is responsible for engineering outcomes. While important in certain circumstances, in other settings this can encourage an instrumental relationship to others and make it difficult to learn receptively, particularly from people with whom we disagree, and especially in moments of political crisis. 
Rachel Wahl is Associate Professor in the School of Education and Human Development, University of Virginia. She is the author of Just Violence: Torture and Human Rights in the Eyes of the Police (Stanford University Press, 2017). Currently she is writing a book manuscript, tentatively titled No Bloodless Tool: Political Dialogue and the Search for Meaning, on the ethical and political implications of learning through dialogue in times of crisis. Her articles have been published in the Journal of Philosophy of Education and Educational Theory among others.  

Zoom link/information
This is the usual link. For details of the link and other enquiries, contact Paul Standish: [email protected]