John Broome, the White's Professor of Moral Philosophy, debates the value of life with Jeff McMahan, focussing on McMahan's time-relative account of the value of life, which Broome has criticised.
This public event was held as part of Professor McMahan's Astor Visiting Lectureship 2013. The debate was well attended, and provided a rare opportunity to bring together McMahan and Broome in to discuss a topic of enormous and wide ranging practical significance. Jeff McMahan is Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers University. He did his graduate work at Oxford and Cambridge and was a research fellow at St. John's College, Cambridge. He is the author of 'The Ethics of Killing: Problems at the Margins of Life' (2002) and 'Killing in War' (2009). He has several other books forthcoming from OUP, including a collection of essays called 'The Values of Lives', a book on war intended for both academic and nonacademic readers called 'The Right Way to Fight', and a sequel to his 2002 book called 'The Ethics of Killing: Self-Defense, War, and Punishment'. John Broome is currently the White's Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Oxford. Broome was educated at the University of Cambridge, at the University of London and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he received a PhD in economics. Before arriving at Oxford he was Professor of Philosophy at the University of St. Andrews and, prior to that, Professor of Economics and Philosophy at the University of Bristol. He has held visiting posts at the University of Virginia, the Australian National University, Princeton University, the University of Washington, the University of British Columbia, the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study in the Social Sciences, and the University of Canterbury. In 2007 Broome was elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. His book 'Weighing Goods' (1991) explores the way in which goods "located" in each of the three "dimensions" - time, people, states of nature - make up overall goodness. Broome argues that these dimensions are linked by what he calls the interpersonal addition theorem, which supports the utilitarian principle of distribution. In his book Weighing Lives (2004), Broome rejects the presumed intuition that adding people to the population is ethically neutral. In his collection of papers, titled 'Ethics out of Economics' (1999), he discusses topics such as value, equality, fairness, and utility.