We were honoured to welcome Professor Pettit to Oxford to deliver the Annual Uehiro Lectures in Practical Ethics in 2011.
The lecture series was entitled 'Making Good: The Challenge of Robustly Demanding Values', and published as a book by Oxford University Press in 2017.
Philip Pettit is the Laurence S. Rockefeller University Professor of Politics and Human Values at Princeton University, where he has taught political theory and philosophy since 2002. Irish by background and training, he was a lecturer in University College, Dublin, a Research Fellow at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Bradford, before moving in 1983 to the Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University; there he held a professorial position jointly in Social and Political Theory and Professor of Philosophy. He was elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009, and honorary member of the Royal Irish Academy in 2010; he is also a fellow of the Australian academies in Humanities and Social Sciences. He holds honorary professorships in Philosophy at Sydney University and Queen's University, Belfast. In 2010 he won a Guggenheim fellowship and is spending 2010-11 as a fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral and Social Sciences at Stanford University.
Professor Philip Pettit gave the 2011 Uehiro Lectures on 1-3 June with his characteristic imaginativeness, clarity, breadth of knowledge, and intellectual generosity. As a result, we were treated to a brilliant set of three lectures and ensuing discussions. Pettit set out by developing the concept of “robustly demanding" goods, whose existence in the actual world depends not just on a good state of affairs occurring in the actual world, but on good states of affairs occurring in various other possible worlds as well. In his first lecture, Pettit suggested that virtues deliver various robustly demanding goods including love and friendship, and argued that we desire the virtues in ourselves and others because of the value of robustly demanding goods. In his second lecture, he argued that freedom, dignity and respect are best conceived of as robustly demanding goods, and that they can and should be delivered by laws, norms and internal constraints. In his third lecture, Pettit defended consequentialism by arguing that if a consequentialist were to value robustly demanding goods, his theory would be significantly less revisionary of our ordinary moral judgments than consequentialism is typically taken to be. The arguments of all three lectures were surprising and creative, and the lectures will leave consequentialists and non-consequentialists alike with much to reflect on about the nature of the good and the right.