Sat 18 Mar 2000, 00:00
To mark the centenary of the death of Henry Sidgwick the British Academy is holding a one day conference on his life and work on 18 March 2000.
Sidgwick was a teacher and professor of philosophy at the University of Cambridge just at the time that the academic study of philosophy assumed its current form. His great work The Methods of Ethics, first published in 1874, has been described as the first professional work of modern ethical theory. A philosopher's philosopher, Sidgwick has had the admiration of some of its leading practitioners up to the present day (including, now, John Rawls and Derek Parfit). Yet Sidgwick was not just a deep theorist of right practice. He was also a practical reformer, who, in particular, did much to promote the higher education of women.
After the end of a century in which much ethical discussion has been at the meta-ethical level, a return to Sidgwick marks a return to the serious analytic consideration of ethical practice, to the old and original question of how we should live. It is also a return to a supreme synthesiser who blended together elements from different dogmatic and historical traditions: intuitionism, utilitarianism, egoism, Aristotle, Butler, Kant, Mill.
The conference aims to study his thought; to see how it was connected with the theoretical problems of both his period and the present; and to examine Sidgwick's project of combining professorial theory with a public practical life.
Coffee and registration
My Roles and their Duties: Sidgwick as Philosopher, Professor and Public Moralist
Three Methods and a Dualism
The Sanctions of Utilitarianism
Dr Stefan Collini (Cambridge) with discussant Dr Jonathan Rée (Middlesex)
Professor John Skorupski (St Andrews) with discussant Baroness O'Neill, FBA (Cambridge)
Dr Ross Harrison (Cambridge) with discussant Dr Roger Crisp (Oxford)
Papers from this symposium were published in 2001 in Henry Sidgwick, edited by Ross Harrison (Proceedings of the British Academy, 109).