Please note the change of venue for this seminar to the Oxford Martin School
Speaker: Peter Singer (Princeton & Melbourne)
Title: What Should We Maximise?
Abstract: Consequentialists hold that the right action is the one that brings about the best consequences. Some non-consequentialists also hold that, when choosing between actions that do not violate any non-consequentialist constraints, we should do what will bring about the best consequences, and other non-consequentialists hold that good consequences can sometimes outweigh non-consequentialist considerations. So on many ethical theories, it is important to decide what consequences are best. The answers offered to this question fall into three main categories. The classical utilitarians were hedonists, holding that “best consequences” means the greatest possible surplus of pleasure over pain. Preference utilitarians argue that the best consequences are those that do most to satisfy, on balance, the preferences of all those affected by our action. Pluralist consequentialists hold that there are several intrinsic values, not only pleasure or happiness, but also such things as knowledge, truth, beauty, freedom, equality and justice. I will discuss some of the considerations for and against each of these positions.
Convenors: Dr Tom Sinclair (University of Oxford), Prof Jeff McMahan (University of Oxford)
Webpage: Moral Philosophy Seminar