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Simon Lectures (3) - Conservatism, Temporal Bias, and Future Generations

Simon Lectures (3) - Conservatism, Temporal Bias, and Future Generations
170 St. George Street, JHB Room 100
Time: Oct 27th, 3:00 pm End: Oct 27th, 5:00 pm
Interest Categories: Philosophy (UTSC), Philosophy (UTM), Philosophy (FAS), 2000-
Lecture by Samuel Scheffler, NYU

The Department of Philosophy presents

The Jerome Simon Lectures:

Why Worry about Future Generations?

Why should we care about what happens to human beings in the future, after we ourselves are long gone? Much of the contemporary philosophical literature on future generations implicitly suggests that our primary reasons for concern are reasons of beneficence. In these lectures, I propose a different answer. Implicit in our existing values and attachments are a variety of powerful reasons, which are independent of considerations of beneficence, for wanting the chain of human generations to persist into the indefinite future under conditions conducive to human flourishing.

Lecture III: "Conservatism, Temporal Bias, and Future Generations"

The attachment-based reasons discussed in the previous two lectures all depend in one way or another on our existing values and on our conservative disposition to preserve and sustain the things that we value. The idea that our reasons for caring about the fate of future generations depend on an essentially conservative disposition may seem surprising or even paradoxical. In this lecture, I explore this conservative disposition further, explaining why it strongly supports a concern for the survival and flourishing of our successors, and comparing it to the form of conservatism defended by G.A. Cohen. I consider the question whether this kind of conservatism involves a form of irrational temporal bias and how it fits within the context of the more general relations between our attitudes toward time and our attitudes toward value.

SAMUEL SCHEFFLER (B.A., Harvard; Ph.D., Princeton) works mainly in the areas of moral and political philosophy. His publications include five books: The Rejection of Consequentialism (1982, rev. ed. 1994), Human Morality (1992), Boundaries and Allegiances (2001), Equality and Tradition (2010), and Death and the Afterlife (Ed. Niko Kolodny, 2013), all published by Oxford University Press. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and has been a recipient of Guggenheim and NEH Fellowships. He serves as an Advisory Editor of Philosophy and Public Affairs, and has been a Visiting Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford.

(Colloquia organized by Julia Nefsky and David Barnett.)

For more information, please contact the Department of Philosophy at 416-978-3311.


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