Thirty-First Annual Selfridge Lecture in Philosophy April 13, 2015

Thomas E. Hill, Jr., "Lies, Torture, and Utopias"

Professor Hill, Kenan Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, will deliver the 31st annual Selfridge Lecture in Philosophy on Monday April 13, 2015.  Professor Hill's talk will be on "Lies, Torture, and Utopias."  The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will be held in Linderman Library 200 at 7 PM. A book signing will follow.

Is what we would do in an ideal world (a utopia) relevant to what we should do now in our real and very imperfect world?  In an ideal world, we may suppose, no one would tell lies or torture anyone.  In our real and often corrupt world, however, telling a lie may be the only way to prevent a murderer from killing a friend and some say that using torture in interrogation could be the only way to prevent destruction of a whole city.  Is thinking about ideal worlds, then, relevant to decisions about what we ought to do – or is it dangerous or useless “utopian thinking”? A common thought is that we should live the standards that we would want everyone to follow, and similarly philosophers, such as Immanuel Kant, have thought the crucial question in ethics is, “What principles would free, rational, equal, and mutually respectful persons legislate for themselves and others in an ideal community?” But since we live in a non-ideal world, does it matter what people would do in an ideal (utopian) world?

Professor Hill's essays on moral and political philosophy are collected in Autonomy and Self-Respect (1991), Dignity and Practical Reason in Kant’s Moral Theory (1992), Respect, Pluralism, and Justice Kantian Perspectives (2000), and Human Welfare and Moral Worth: Kantian Perspectives (2002), and Virtue, Rules, and Justice: Kantian Aspirations.  He co-edited (with Arnulf Zweig) an edition of Kant’s Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals.(2002) and edited  A Blackwell Guide to Kant’s Ethics (2009).

Professor Hill will also give a talk on Tuesday, April 14, at 4 PM on  “Duty and Choices in Philanthropic Giving: Kantian Perspectives” in Maginnes Hall 102.


End Date: 
Tuesday, June 30, 2015 - 00:00