April 11, 2016: Anselm Mueller, "What Do We Live For?"

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Anselm Mueller, Visiting Professor with Virtue, Happiness, & the Meaning of Life and the Department of Philosophy on "What Do We Live For?"

4 pm, April 11, 2016 | University of Chicago | The Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society 5701 S. Woodlawn Avenue, Chicago, IL

Photos from the lecture and reception.

Ethical conduct is not without its costs—delivering truthful testimony against well-connected murderers in a criminal trial can be dangerous; delivering bad news to good people is painful; facing down and working through a mountain of debt can require tightening your belt in unpleasant ways; and duly courageous action can get you killed.  Unethical conduct, on the other hand, often promises ease, comfort, wealth, and some important forms of success.  Points such as these have led many thinkers to notice that there seems to be a tension between acting well (the stuff of ethical conduct) and faring well (getting things that people generally want to get, and finding ways of holding onto those things). 

In this lecture, Anselm Mueller will consider the traditional opposition between acting well and faring well, and the kinds of steps that thinkers in different cultural settings have taken to address it.   Some urge that meaningful lives are primarily those centered on pursuit of ethical perfection.  Others urge that the best lives are directed to faring well (sometimes in ways that have nothing to do with satisfying desires for wealth or ease or comfort).  And a few urge that there is no such thing as really faring well unless one also is devoted to acting well.  How are we to understand these responses to the traditional problem?  Which, if any, look like sound ways of addressing the tension?

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Anselm Mueller is Professor Emeritus, University of Trier, and a Visiting Scholar with Virtue, Happiness, and the Meaning of Life and the Department of Philosophy. A student of Elizabeth Anscombe and Anthony Kenny at Oxford in the early sixties, Professor Müller has taught philosophy at Oxford University, Australian National University, University of Trier, University of Luxemborg, and Keimyung University. He has written many books and articles in the following areas: ethics, rationality, action theory, philosophy of mind, and the history of philosophy.

Our Visiting Scholar Program is made possible by generous support from the Chicago Moral Philosophy Program. This lecture is hosted by the Neubauer Collegeium for Culture and Society and supported by a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation.