Apr 19, 2013

Recent Talk: Jeremy Bentham's Philosophy of Action

Earlier this month, I delivered a talk digging into a set of topics I've been interested in for quite some time -- the Utilitarian philosopher, Jeremy Bentham's philosophy of action -- as part of the Marist College Philosophy and Religious Studies Speaker Series.

I've taught Bentham's Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation for some time in my Ethics classes (you can watch video lectures from those classes, and shorter Core Concept videos here), and I've often been struck by just how much attention he devotes to analysing elements of moral live and action which we don't usually associate with Utilitarian moral theory -- intentions, motives, dispositions, even (in his later works) virtues and vices. I decided it was a topic well worth researching and presenting on, and an opportunity to start reading through some of Bentham's less often perused, more mature works.

 As it turned out, the audience was primarily composed of undergraduate non-majors, so I tailored my examples and discussion to them.  For the very first time in my career, I was surprised that, after the talk, nobody had any questions, including the philosophy faculty who attended -- when I asked them about it later, their unanimous reply was that the presentation was so clear as to preclude any need for questions.

Here are the slides for the presentation.

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