2012-2013 Lecture Series
Littauer Professor of Philosophy & Public Policy, Professor of Philosophy and Law
The Trolley Problem Mysteries: May We Harm Some to Save Others?
Lecture I: Who Turned the Trolley? Is There a Problem?
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
4:10 p.m. – 6:15 p.m., Toll Room, Alumni House
Commentary by Judith Jarvis Thomson
Lecture II: How Was the Trolley Turned?
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
4:10 p.m. – 6:15 p.m., Toll Room, Alumni House
Commentary by Thomas Hurka and Shelly Kagan
Seminar and Discussion with commentators
Thursday, March 21, 2013
4:10 p.m. – 6:30 p.m., Toll Room, Alumni House
With commentary by Thomas Hurka, Shelly Kagan, and Judith Thomson
The lectures and the seminar are free and open to the public.
Download and Listen
MP3 Format: Lecture One, Lecture Two, Seminar & Discussion
About Frances Kamm
Frances Kamm is a distinguished philosopher whose work focuses on normative and applied ethics. More particularly, her research has taken up issues in nonconsequentialist ethical theory and the moral problems of mortality, bioethics, torture and war. Her writings deftly engage both the theoretical aspects of morality and their practical applications, probing the structure of the moral realm through rigorous reflection on ingenious hypothetical cases and thought experiments.
Kamm is currently the Littauer Professor of Philosophy and Public Policy in the Kennedy School of Government and Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University. She joined Harvard’s faculty in 2003 after previous appointments in New York University’s philosophy department, law school and medical school. She has received fellowships from the ACLU, the AAUW, the NEH, and the Guggenheim Foundation, as well as from several universities, including Princeton, Harvard, and Stanford. She is in wide demand as a public speaker, and her recent engagements include the Oslo Lecture in Moral Philosophy, the Uehiro Lectures at Oxford University, and the Auguste Comte Memorial Lectures at the London School of Economics. In 2006 Kamm served as a commentator for the Berkeley Tanner Lectures presented by Allan Gibbard. She was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2011.
A graduate of Barnard College, Columbia University (with a major in philosophy), Kamm received her Ph.D. at M.I.T. She has authored many important works in the field of philosophical ethics, including the following volumes, all published by Oxford University Press: Creation and Abortion(1992), Morality, Mortality, Vol. 1:Death and Whom to Save From It (1993), Morality, Mortality, Vol. 2: Rights, Duties, and Status (1996), Intricate Ethics:Rights, Responsibilities, and Permissible Harm (2007), Ethics for Enemies: Terror, Torture, & War (2011), and The Moral Target: Aiming at Right Conduct in War and Other Conflicts (2012). In addition, she has written numerous influential articles on normative ethical theory and on practical ethics. She serves on the university faculty committee of the Edmond J. Safra Ethics Center at Havard, and on the editorial boards of Philosophy & Public Affairs,Legal Theory, and Utilitas.
About the Commentators
Chancellor Henry N.R. Jackman Distinguished Professor of Philosophical Studies
University of Toronto
Thomas Hurka’s work centers on moral and political philosophy, with emphases in normative ethical theory and perfectionist moral theories. His research ranges widely, and touches on issues of punishment, population, nationalism, friendship and war. He recently published The Best Things in Life, which addresses the “many things—pleasure, knowledge, achievement, virtue, personal love—that can make one’s life desirable.”
Hurka received his B.Phil and D.Phil in philosophy at Oxford, and a B.A. at the University of Toronto, where he now teaches as the Chancellor Henry N. R. Jackman Distinguished Professor of Philosophical Studies. He previously served as professor of Philosophy at the University of Calgary, and as a visiting fellow at Oxford. He is a member of the Canadian Philosophical Association, the American Philosophical Association, and an editorial board member of Ethics.
Hurka’s many contributions include two works on perfectionist moral theory,Perfectionism (Oxford, 1993), and Virtue, Vice, and Value (Oxford, 2001). HisDrawing Morals: Essays in Ethical Theory was published by Oxford in 2011. An earlier volume, Principles: Short Essays on Ethics, collects his weekly ethics column for the Globe and Mail; it was reprinted in 1999 by Harcourt Brace. Hurka has also published numerous articles, in venues such as Nous, Social Policy and Philosophy, Metaphilosophy, and Utilitas.
Clark Professor of Philosophy
Shelly Kagan’s research centers on moral philosophy, and more specifically on normative ethics. He has published widely, on topics including well-being, desert, mortality, and Kantianism, but the main focus of his research is consequentialism and its contrast with deontological moral theories.
Kagan is the Clark Professor of Philosophy at Yale University. Prior to his appointment at Yale in 1995, Kagan taught at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Illinois at Chicago. He received his B.A. from Wesleyan and his Ph.D. from Princeton.
Kagan is the author of numerous influential works including The Limits of Morality (Oxford, 1989), in which he offers, in his own words, a “back door defense of consequentialism”. Other important works by Kagan includeNormative Ethics (Westview, 1997) and The Geometry of Desert (Oxford, 2012). His book Death (Yale, 2012) is based on his Yale Open Course of the same title, which has attracted a huge online following in the US and abroad. He has published articles in Philosophical Perspectives, Philosophy and Public Affairs, and Ethics.
Judith Jarvis Thomson
Professor of Linguistics and Philosophy
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Judith Thomson is widely recognized for her work in metaphysics and ethics. She has focused on normative ethics, moral theory, rights, personal identity, theory of action, causation, and the nature of normativity.
Thomson is Professor of Philosophy at MIT, and has held visiting appointments at the Australian National University, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of California, Berkeley, and Yale Law School. She studied at Barnard College, Cambridge University, and received her Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1959. She is also a recipient of fellowships from National Endowment for the Humanities, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Centre for Advanced Study at Oslo, and has lectured widely, delivering the Howison lecture at Berkeley and the Tanner Lectures in Human Values at Princeton. She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1989.
Her publications include Acts and Other Events (1977), Rights, Restitution, and Risk (1986), The Realm of Rights (1990), Moral Relativism and Moral Objectivity, with Gilbert Harman (1996), Goodness and Advice (2003), andNormativity (2008); she has also published articles in Philosophy and Public Affairs, Social Philosophy and Policy, Journal of Philosophy, and Nous.