Plumer Visiting Fellow: What is “Crazy Ethics” and Why Does It Matter?

Join us in the Tsuzuki Lecture Theatre at 5.30pm to hear Plumer Visiting Fellow, Saul Smilansky, discuss “Crazy Ethics”.

Saul describes his lecture:

‘”Crazy Ethics” (CE) is a radical, ambitious view of the content of morality. It claims that while morality as such can make sense (e.g. is not just a relativistic cultural product or a way of manipulating people emotionally), it is full of PPP – Perplexities, Paradoxes and Perversities. Absurdity prevails in central areas of the moral universe. The craziness or absurdity I am discussing does not indicate that we are making a mistake, but absurdity can be a feature of true, or at least quite plausible, beliefs, or descriptions of states of affairs. Seeing the absurdity is a revelation of reality.

The craziness of ethics has been almost completely neglected; unlike in other areas of philosophy (paradoxes are central in logic, epistemology, or the philosophy of science, for example). This neglect is not innocent – we are motivated to try to avoid the indications of absurdity, for psychological and social reasons. Hence, uncovering CE is not only a matter of discovering truths about morality and the meaning of life, but of overcoming ourselves.

I am completing a book that aims to defend and explore the CE view. In my talk, I will explain further CE and why it matters. Mainly, I will give three diverse examples of CE which we can then discuss. And I will speak a bit on why technological changes will make CE all the more important in the future; and on how we might deal with it (clue: this itself involves more craziness).’

All welcome!