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The YTL Centre's Annual Lecture with Professor Thomas M. Scanlon (Harvard University)

Great Hall King's Building Strand Campus
27/03/2018 (18:00-19:30)
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Tim Scanlon2

We are delighted to invite you to the YTL Centre Annual Lecture in Politics, Philosophy and Law which will be delivered this year by one of the world's leading philosophers, Professor Thomas M. Scanlon.

Abstract: The term ‘identity’ figures prominently in a wide range of contemporary discussions, ranging from abstract philosophical theories about practical reason to debates about partisan politics. It is often claimed that individuals have special reason to do certain things, such as to follow certain ways of life, because this is part of their identity. It may also be claimed that people have special reason to promote the interests of others with whom they share an identity. (This, is one thing that may be meant by “identity politics.”) Finally, there is the question of national identity, of what it means to be an American, or British. In my talk I will cast a somewhat skeptical eye on these ideas, asking what is involved in being a matter of identity in these various senses and how identity in these senses can be relevant to the reasons that people have.


Biography: T.M. Scanlon is Alford Professor of Natural Religion, Moral Philosophy, and Civil Polity in the Department of Philosophy, Harvard University. He received his B.A. from Princeton in 1962 and his Ph.D. from Harvard. In between, he studied for a year at Oxford as a Fulbright Fellow. He taught at Princeton from 1966 before coming to Harvard in 1984. Professor Scanlon's dissertation and some of his first papers were in mathematical logic, but the bulk of his teaching and writing has been in moral and political philosophy. He has published papers on freedom of expression, the nature of rights, conceptions of welfare, and theories of justice, as well as on foundational questions in moral theory. His two most recent books are Being realistic about reasons. (Oxford University Press, 2014) and Why does inequality matter? (Oxford University Press, 2018)

A drinks reception will follow the lecture.

If you would like to tweet about the event please use hashtag #YTLAnnualLecture.

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