Special lecture by Peter Singer
Date and time: Wednesday, 18 May 2011 (TT11 Week 3), 5 - 6.30 pm
Speaker: Professor Peter Singer (Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics, Princeton University & Laureate Professor, CAPPE, University of Melbourne)
Title: "When morality demands more than humans are likely to do"
Venue: Corpus Christi College, MBI Al Jaber Building (map and directions: http://www.ccc.ox.ac.uk/How-to-find-us/ )
Link to speaker’s website: http://www.princeton.edu/~psinger/
Booking: No booking is required but please note the auditorium has a maximum capacity of 135. It is advisable to arrive early to guarantee a place.
Abstract: It is a commonplace in ethics that “ought” implies “can”. But this says nothing about the relationship between “ought” and “is likely to.” Yet a common objection to utilitarianism is that it is too demanding, setting a standard for saints rather than for normal human beings. After exploring why ethics – and not only utilitarian ethics - might set standards that humans are unlikely to meet, I then set out the reasons why I reject this as an objection to utilitarianism or other ethical views with such implications. I will then ask what we ought to do, when we realize that most people are not likely to follow the more demanding implications of a sound ethical view.
Bio: Peter Singer was born in Melbourne, Australia, on July 6, 1946, and educated at the University of Melbourne and the University of Oxford. He has taught at the University of Oxford, La Trobe University and Monash University. Since 1999 he has been Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics in the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University. From 2005, he has also held the part-time position of Laureate Professor at the University of Melbourne, in the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics.
Peter Singer first became well-known internationally after the publication of Animal Liberation in 1975. Since then he has written, co-authored, edited or co-edited more than 40 other books, including Practical Ethics; The Expanding Circle; How Are We to Live?, Rethinking Life and Death, The Ethics of What We Eat (with Jim Mason) and most recently, The Life You Can Save. His works have appeared in more than 20 languages. He is the author of the major article on Ethics in the current edition of the Encylopaedia Britannica. Two collections of his writings have been published: Writings on an Ethical Life, which he edited, and Unsanctifying Human Life, edited by Helga Kuhse, and also two collections of critical essays, with responses: Singer and Critics, edited by Dale Jamieson, and Peter Singer Under Fire, edited by Jeffrey Schaler.
Outside academic life, Peter Singer is a member of the Leadership Council of Oxfam America, a Vice-President of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (UK),and a member of the Advisory Board of GiveWell.net. In 2005 Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world.