Universiteit Antwerpen

November 4, 2013 | Sylvie Delacroix on Habituation and Practical Reason

Sylvie Delacroix, Reader in Legal Theory and Ethics at UCL Faculty of Laws, will be giving a talk entitled “Not merely a nervous tic: habits, practical reason and ethical maturity" on November 4th.

Sylvie Delacroix  holds a PhD from Cambridge University, Licences in law from the University of Louvain-La-Neuve (Belgium), and Candidatures in philosophy from the Facultés Universitaires Saint Louis (Belgium). She was the Evelyn Green Davis Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study (Harvard  University) in 2004-2005. She is the director of the Centre for Ethics and Law, which was launched on 21st October 2009. In 2010 she was awarded a Philip Leverhulme Prize.

Her main areas of interest include jurisprudence, ethics and public law.


Room A.107, Building A, Prinsstraat 13, 2000 Antwerp

In comparison to the well-documented importance of habituation in the processes by which we come to acquire our pre-reflective ethical know-how, the no-less important capacity to break free of habit gets far less attention. Yet living an ethical life will demand that we sometimes stand at odds with the usual. How do we resist a reduction to that which is usually the case? The belief that our actions for the good cannot be simply the outcome of happenstance may imply that principles and only principles can yield resistance to our acting unreflectively, as usual. Yet the former belief flies in the face of empirical research suggesting that our moral actions are often just that: the outcome of happenstance (if by happenstance one means contingent intuitions, aspirations and emotional states). If principles (as internalized longer-term commitments) can’t claim to be constitutively independent from the contingent morass that feeds our ethical sensitivity, where can resistance to our acting unreflectively spring from?