Meet the Fellows: 2018 Newcombe Fellow Larisa Svirsky

The Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship fosters the original and significant study of ethical or religious values in all fields of the humanities and social sciences. The 2018 class, announced by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, includes Larisa Svirsky, a doctoral candidate in philosophy at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill.

Ms. Svirsky’s dissertation, Responsibility and Relationship, offers a relationship-based account of responsibility:

I started graduate school with a strong interest in ethics, but without much philosophical training in it. I became especially interested in questions about responsibility that were grounded in the social and ethical significance of holding people responsible. Perhaps this was influenced by the fact that I went to college early, and left home to do so. I remember early on in my college career that people with whom I interacted often seemed unsure about what was reasonable to expect of me. These experiences taught me that being willing to hold someone responsible could be a sign of trust and intimacy. When I started reading more philosophical literature about responsibility, I noticed that holding responsible was often equated with blame or other forms of interpersonal punishment. This equation suggested a justification for excluding individuals who are impaired or immature from our responsibility practices, which seemed too hasty to me. My dissertation research began by thinking about what happens to our understanding of what it means to hold members of vulnerable populations responsible if we were to appreciate the wide variety of forms that holding responsible takes in ordinary life.

For more information about the 2018 Newcombe Fellows and a list of their dissertation titles, click here.



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