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How and why does fairness matter?

16 February 2006

EVENT: John Maynard Keynes Lecture, ‘How and why does fairness matter?’

WHERE: British Academy, 10 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AH

DATE: Tuesday 28 February at 5.30pm

Professor Ken Binmore of UCL (University College London) will argue that traditional moral philosophy - in the style of Plato or Kant - has taken us nowhere in this year’s John Maynard Keynes Lecture at the British Academy. Such philosophy fails to understand that morality evolves along with the human race as a means of sustaining cooperative equilibria in repeated games, he will say.

Touching on examples such as the recent publication of cartoons depicting the prophet, Mohammad, Professor Binmore will argue that what’s viewed as fair in one culture is not always in another. That is, there’s no absolute morality, it is culturally defined.

He goes on to describe an egalitarian theory of fairness that is broadly compatible with anthropological and psychological data.

Ken Binmore is an emeritus professor in the UCL Department of Economics. He designed the 2000 auction of third generation (3G) mobile phone licences, which netted the government £24bn. The sell-off made use of a complex game theory design – a theory known to many through the Hollywood film, ‘A Beautiful Mind’ about the life of John Nash who received a Nobel Prize for devising it.

For further information, please visit: www.britac.ac.uk/events

To set up interviews in advance please contact:

Judith H Moore, UCL Media Relations, Tel: +44 (0) 20 7679 7678 (int: 07678), Email: judith.moore@ucl.ac.uk