"Being Good in a World of Need," with Larry Temkin


Thursday, February 11, 2021, 5:00pm to 6:30pm



Red and cream poster with black and white photo of a white man in a leather chair

Inaugural Mala and Solomon Kamm Lecture in Ethics


We are excited to launch a new lecture series focused on philosophy and ethics, supported by Frances M. Kamm, the Henry Rutgers University Professor of Philosophy and Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers University, and important long-term member of the Center for Ethics Community. Professor Kamm has named the series in honor of her parents, Mala and Solomon Kamm, who survived internment at Auschwitz in World War II. The Kamms were dedicated to education, justice, and ethics throughout their lives, and we are pleased to honor their memory with this series. The Mala and Solomon Kamm Lecture in Ethics will be given by a leading philosopher to maintain the Center’s commitment to our disciplinary roots.


Our inaugural Kamm lecturer is Larry S. TemkinDistinguished Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers University.



In this talk, "Being Good in a World of Need," Professor Temkin will present some worries about global efforts to aid the needy in the world’s most desperate regions. Among the worries he addresses are: unintended negative consequences that may occur elsewhere in a society when aid agencies hire highly qualified locals to promote their agendas; foreign interests having undue influence on a country’s priorities, negatively impacting local autonomy; and outside interventions undermining the responsiveness of governments to their citizens.


Professor Temkin will also discuss the disturbing possibility that if each of us, individually, does what we have most reason to do, morally, in aiding the needy, we, together, may bring about an outcome which is worse, morally, in terms of its overall impact on the global needy. Finally, he discusses the moral disaster that was Goma—a stark reminder that worries about global aid do not merely concern abstract theoretical possibilities.


Professor Temkin has long argued, and continues to believe, that those who are well off are open to serious moral criticism if they ignore the plight of the global needy. Unfortunately, however, as this talk illustrates, what one should do in light of that truth is much more complex, and murky, than most people have realized.


About the Speaker


Larry S. Temkin is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers University. A specialist in ethics and social and political philosophy, Temkin’s publications include Inequality (Oxford University Press, 1993), Rethinking the Good: Moral Ideals and the Nature of Practical Reasoning (Oxford University Press, 2012), and Being Good in a World of Need (Oxford University Press, forthcoming).


Temkin has lectured extensively worldwide, and his individualistic approach to inequality has been adopted by the World Health Organization and the Gates Foundation in their measurements of the Global Burden of Disease.


He has received fellowships from the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, All Souls College, the NIH, the ANU, the National Humanities Center, the Danforth Foundation, Corpus Christi College Oxford, and Princeton’s Center for Human Values, where he was Laurance S. Rockefeller Visiting Professor for Distinguished Teaching. Temkin is also the recipient of eight major teaching awards.


Click this link to register for the lecture.