Monday, July 01, 2013

Christine Korsgaard's Pufendorf Lectures 2013

Professor Christine M. Korsgaard delivered the Pufendorf Lectures 2013 at Lund University, Sweden, on May 28-31, titled "The Natural History of the Good".

The lectures are available here (audios):

1. Good and Good-For (part one)
2. Good and Good-For (part two)
3. What Kinds of Entities can have a Good?
4. The Right and the Good.

"Now good is considered in an absolute way by some philosophers, so that every entity, actually existing, may be considered good; but we pay no attention to such a meaning, and consider a thing as good only insofar as it has a respect to others, and it is understood to be good for some person, or on his behalf.” (Samuel Pufendorf, The Law of Nature and of Nations). The general aim of these lectures is to defend a conception of the Good that is compatible with a naturalistic conception of the world, or, to put it another way, it is to explain how the natural world came to contain things that are properly characterized as good and bad. Simply put, my thesis is that the Good came into the world with the existence of entities for whom things can be good or bad. In support of this thesis I will defend the claim that the concept of something’s being good-for someone is prior to that of something’s being good, and explain how we get from the fact of something’s being good-for someone to its being good. I will then ask what sorts of beings can have a good, and explore the implications of the view for the existence of value in general, and for the relation between the right and the good.

Christine M. Korsgaard is Arthur Kingsley Porter Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University. She is the author of "The Sources of Normativity" (Cambridge University Press, 1996) and "Self-Constitution:  Agency, Identity, and Integrity" (Oxford University Press, 2009).

See also two recent papers by Korsgaard:
* "On Having a Good" [pdf] (forthcoming in Philosophy)
* "The Relational Nature of the Good" [pdf] (forthcoming in Oxford Studies in Metaethics).

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