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The Australian National University

2015 John Passmore Lecture: Constructivism in Ethics and the Problem of Attachment and Loss

Date and time

Tue, 21/07/2015 - 16:00 - 18:00


Innovations Theatre, Building 124, ANU


person icon Sharon Street New York University

Associate Professor Sharon StreetThis paper explores two questions in moral philosophy that might at first seem unrelated.   The first question is practical.  While it’s not a truth we like to contemplate, each of us faces the eventual loss of everyone and everything we love.  Is there a way of living in light of that fact without falling into anxiety or depression, or resorting to one form or another of forgetfulness, denial, or numbing out?  The second question is metaethical.  Is it possible to vindicate a strong form of ethical objectivity without positing anything metaphysically or epistemologically mysterious?  In this paper, I sketch a partially Buddhist-inspired metaethical view that would, if successful, give a positive answer to both questions

Sharon Street specialises in metaethics, and is the author of a series of articles on how to reconcile our understanding of normativity with a scientific conception of the world. Her work concerns the nature of both practical and epistemic reasons, and draws especially on an evolutionary biological perspective.

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