Robert Audi Lecture

24 May 2018



How to Treat Persons: two anchors of moral judgement

A public lecture by Robert Audi, John A. O’Brien Professor of Philosophy, University of Notre Dame (Indiana, US) and 2018 UWA Institute of Advanced Studies Visiting Fellow.

If we do what we morally ought to do, does that suffice for being a moral person? It would not for Aristotle, since doing what we ought to do does not entail acting from virtue.  It would not for Kant, since we can do what we ought to do for morally inappropriate reasons. The question is harder for utilitarianism, but for many utilitarians, even regularly maximizing utility does not entail being a moral person. For common-sense intuitionism, too, doing the right deeds does not suffice for being a moral person. 

The presentation argued that our conduct goes beyond our deeds—even beyond those as motivated in a certain way—and that a suitable predominance of morally right conduct in life apparently does suffice for being a moral person. Showing this requires accounts of conduct, its governing norms, and how a theory of conduct embodies moral standards.

Robert Audi is internationally well known for works in moral and political philosophy, epistemology, and philosophy of action, as well as for philosophy of religion. His books include Religious Commitment and Secular Reason (Cambridge, 2000), The Architecture of Reason (Oxford, 2001), The Good in the Right: A Theory of Intuition and Intrinsic Value (Princeton, 2004), Practical Reasoning and Ethical Decision (Routledge, 2006), Moral Value and Human Diversity (Oxford, 2007), Epistemology: A Contemporary Introduction to the Theory of Knowledge (3rd edition, 2010), Moral Perception (2013), Means, Ends, and Persons (2016), and (as Editor) The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy (1995, 1999, and 2015). He is a past president of the American Philosophical Association and currently John A. O’Brien Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame (Indiana, US) and Professorial Fellow at the Australian Catholic University.