Touching Through: The Puzzle of Mediated Contact

Part of the IDEA Research Seminar series. Attend online or in-person.

Speakers: William Hornett and Robbie Morgan

One person touches another when the surface of their body comes into contact with the surface of another person’s body. However, this excludes an important class of cases, which we call mediated touching or touching through. People touch each other through external objects, most obviously clothing, very frequently. Unlike skin-to-skin contact, this touching does not involve contact between the surfaces of two person’s bodies. In this paper, we argue that it is remarkably difficult to determine what it means to touch someone through something, even though a precise definition is important for moral theorising and legal practice.
We reject several initially plausible accounts on the grounds that they are extensionally inadequate or uninformative. We propose that one person touches another person through something when they traverse a moral and material boundary of that person. In developing this framework, we draw on recent work on interpersonal closeness and Talia Mae Bettcher’s discussion of intimacy and moral boundaries.

If you wish to attend in person please come to 17 Blenheim Terrace, Seminar Room 2 or you can attend online using the Teams link.