Roger Crisp’s Posts

Event Summary: Morality and Personality

by Roger Crisp

On 2 November 2023, at one of the most well-attended (in-person and remotely) New St Cross Ethics seminars to date, Professor Predrag Cicovacki, Professor Emeritus in Philosophy at the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA, USA presented a fascinating lecture on ‘Morality and Personality’.

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More Demoralizing

Readers of this blog may remember a contribution by me on ‘Demoralizing Ethics’ earlier this year. It set out some arguments (from a paper on religious pluralism) for, at least initially, avoiding moral concepts and language in ethics. These arguments were based on parsimony and on avoiding emotional distortion, and outlined a demoralized ethical approach based on well-being or welfare. Continue reading

Well-being at Work

The University of Oxford, partly as a result of the pandemic, has recently begun to develop a new strategy and programme to support staff well-being. Last term, Frances Parkes, the Wellbeing Programme Manager, gave a fascinating presentation at the Oxford Uehiro Centre on well-being at work, and the resources available to staff to assist in various areas of their lives – not only work itself, but also, for example, finance and health. Continue reading

Demoralizing Ethics

by Roger Crisp

This may be an odd thing for a moral philosopher to say, but I think that morality is not fundamentally important. In fact, I think it would be helpful if we stopped using, or at least drastically cut the use of, moral language in philosophical ethics, unless we are engaged in some non-normative enterprise, such as describing a particular morality, that of common sense, for example, or of some particular group or individual. Continue reading

What is the Most Important Question in Ethics?

by Roger Crisp

It’s often been said (including by Socrates) that the most important, ultimate, or fundamental question in ethics is: ‘How should one live?’. Continue reading

Can You Really Do More than What Duty Requires?

By Roger Crisp

Your legal duties are what the law demands of you: to pay your taxes, not to park on yellow lines. Moral duties are what morality demands of you: to keep your promises, not to kill the innocent.

Most think it’s possible to ‘go beyond’ your moral duty. Imagine you’re one of the 8,477 people who have taken the Giving What We Can pledge to donate 10 per cent of their income to effective charities. It’s unlikely anyone would blame you for not giving any more, since it looks as if you’re already fulfilling any plausible duty of beneficence. But what if you now start giving 50 per cent? This is not your duty, but of course you won’t be blamed. You will be praised for going beyond, way beyond, your duty. Continue reading

Robert Audi on Moral Creditworthiness and Moral Obligation

by Roger Crisp

On Tuesday 8 March, Professor Robert Audi, John A. O’Brien Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, gave a Public Lecture for the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics. The event was held in the Lecture Room at the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Oxford and was hybrid, the audience numbering around 60 overall. Continue reading

Impersonality and Non-identity: A Response to Bramble

by Roger Crisp

Consider the following case, from David Boonin:

Wilma. Wilma has decided to have a baby. She goes to her doctor for a checkup and the doctor tells her that…as things now stand, if she conceives, her child will have a disability. . . that clearly has a substantially negative impact on a person’s quality of life. . . [but is not] so serious as to render the child’s life worse than no life at all. . . .[But] Wilma can prevent this from happening. If she takes a tiny pill once a day for two months before conceiving, her child will be perfectly healthy. The pill is easy to take, has no side effects, and will be paid for by her health insurance. . . .Wilma decides that having to take a pill once a day for two months before conceiving is a bit too inconvenient and so chooses to throw the pills away and conceive at once. As a result of this choice, her child is born [with the disability].

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Putting your Philosophical House in Order

by Roger Crisp

For some, the end-of-year holiday offers a little time for relaxation, and perhaps also some general reflection independent of the particular issues one has been thinking about over the year. I’d like to recommend starting with the concepts you use, both to frame ethical questions, and to answer them. Continue reading

Hedonism, the Experience Machine, and Virtual Reality

By Roger Crisp

I take hedonism about well-being or welfare to be the view that the only thing that is good for any being is pleasure, and that what makes pleasure good is nothing other than its being pleasant. The standard objections to hedonism of this kind have mostly been of the same form: there are things other than pleasure that are good, and pleasantness isn’t the only property that makes things good. Continue reading

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