Friday 9th June  | 2:15 – 3:45pm  | St Aidan’s College, Lindisfarne 1 & 2
Jane Heal
Jane Heal

University of Cambridge

Jane Heal was educated in Oxford and studied at Cambridge where she also took her Ph.D. After a Research Fellowship at Newnham, she travelled to the US on a Harkness Fellowship, visiting Princeton and Berkeley. In 1976 she joined the Philosophy Department at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, where Geoff and Mary Midgley became friends and colleagues. In 1986 she returned to Cambridge where she is now an Emeritus Professor. She has written on meaning, self-knowledge, indexicality, rationality and other central topics in philosophy of mind and language. She is particularly known for work exploring the importance of co-operative thought and action as the underpinning for our grasp of the psychological. Her books include Fact and Meaning (1989) and Mind, Reason and Imagination (2003). She is a Fellow of St John’s College, where she was President 1999 – 2003. She has also served as President of the Aristotelian Society and the Mind Association. She was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1997.

Unselfishness and Plural Intentionality

We think that ability to act unselfishly is admirable and needed for a good human life. Much philosophical theorising focuses on the question of why I should be unselfish, should act for your sake. But the upshot of starting with this question, given ways of thinking we are trained into, is that unselfishness turns out to be either an amiable form of selfishness or to be of doubtful intelligibility. This familiar tangle is underpinned by the assumption of strong individualism, that intentional goings on, such as thought, choice and flourishing (or suffering) belong fundamentally to singular subjects. The paper explores the logical resources offered by the idea of plural intentionality, that one or more people can think, act and flourish (or suffer) together. How would things go if we took seriously the logical form of plural intentionality, the idea that we are co-subjects?