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James Martineau Memorial Lecture - Hobart

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Stanley Burbury Theatre, University Centre, Churchill Avenue, Sandy Bay

Hobart, Tasmania 7000

Australia

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The 2018 James Martineau Memorial Lecture

will be presented by

Professor Neil Levy

Macquarie University

'Not so Hypocritical After All: How we change our minds without noticing'

We are all apt to alter our beliefs and even our principles to suit the prevailing winds. Examples abound in public life. For instance, like the politicians who yesterday campaigned on the budget emergency represented by a deficit only to be indifferent to an even larger deficit once in office. But we are all subject to similar reversals. We often accuse one another of hypocrisy when these kinds of reversals occur. Sometimes the accusation is justified. In this paper, however, I will argue that in many such cases, we don’t act hypocritically, even if we have not changed our minds in response to new evidence. Marshalling evidence from psychology and evolutionary theory, I will suggest that we are designed to update our beliefs in response to social signals: as these signals change, we change our minds, often without even noticing.


Neil Levy is Professor of Philosophy at Macquarie University, Sydney, and a senior research fellow at the Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, University of Oxford. He began his academic life working in Continental philosophy, in the tradition of Michel Foucault and Jean-Paul Sartre. More recently, he became interested in analytic philosophy, in which he worked first on the question of the nature and existence of free will and on issues in philosophy of mind and philosophy of psychology. He combines these interests with research on applied ethics. He has published widely on all these topics and many others. His books include Neuroethics: Challenges for the 21stCentury (Cambridge University Press, 2007), Hard Luck: How Luck Undermines Free Will and Moral Responsibility (Oxford University Press, 2011) and Consciousness and Moral Responsibility (Oxford University Press, 2014). In 2017, Professor Levy became a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities in recognition of his contributions to philosophy.

Refreshments from 5.30pm

The James Martineau Memorial Lecture is sponsored by the School of Humanities and is supported by a bequest from Tasmanian educator Samuel Lovell. The lecture enhances public engagement with questions of moral philosophy and the philosophy of religion.

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Stanley Burbury Theatre, University Centre, Churchill Avenue, Sandy Bay

Hobart, Tasmania 7000

Australia

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