UCL Faculty of Laws


In-Person Conference: The 17th International Society for Utilitarian Studies Conference

18 June 2024–20 June 2024, 9:30 am–5:00 pm

A photo of Bentham House building from street level

Celebrating the 150th anniversary of the publication of Henry Sidgwick’s The Methods of Ethics

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The 17th International Society for Utilitarian Studies Conference: celebrating the 150th anniversary of the publication of Henry Sidgwick’s The Methods of Ethics.

About the Conference

The 17th Conference of the International Society for Utilitarian Studies will take place on 18–20 June 2024 at University College London’s Faculty of Laws. The Conference is generously supported by the Faculty’s Bentham House Conference Fund.

Henry Sidgwick (1838–1900) is recognized as the third in the trinity of major classical utilitarian thinkers, following Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832) and John Stuart Mill (1806–73). We will be celebrating the 150th anniversary of the publication of Henry Sidgwick’s The Methods of Ethics, a work described by John Rawls as ‘the most philosophically profound of the strictly classical works’ in the utilitarian tradition. Papers and panels will address issues raised by Sidgwick’s The Methods of Ethics and his other works, as well as issues related to the study of utilitarianism more generally.

Key Speakers

Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek is a professor at the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Lodz, Poland. She is a hedonistic utilitarian. Her main research interest focuses on the philosophy of Henry Sidgwick, the concept of wellbeing, and pleasure. Together with Peter Singer she wrote two books: The Point of View of the Universe (Oxford University Press, 2014) and Utilitarianism - A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press 2017) and edited J.S. Mill’s Utilitarianism (Norton, 2021). In May 2024 Routledge is going to publish her introduction to The Philosophy of Pleasure. Apart from academic work, she is keen to convey philosophical ideas to a popular audience, and has written on how to live a good life for popular magazines.

Peter Singer is the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics in the University Centre for Human Values at Princeton University. His books include Animal Liberation (1975), Practical Ethics (1980), How Are We to Live? (1993), The Life You Can Save: Acting Now to End World Poverty (2009), The Point of View of the Universe (2014, with Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek), Utilitarianism—A Very Short Introduction (2017, with Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek), and Why Vegan? Eating Ethically (2020). In 2012 Singer was made a Companion of the Order of Australia and in 2021 received the Berggruen Prize for Philosophy and Culture.

John Skorupski is Emeritus Professor of Moral Philosophy in the University of St Andrews. He writes on normativity and reasons, and on modern moral and political philosophy, including its history. His books include John Stuart Mill, The Domain of Reasons, and Being and Freedom. He is a fellow of the British Academy and of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Bart Schultz is Senior Lecturer in Humanities (Philosophy) and former Director of the Civic Knowledge Project at the University of Chicago, where he has been teaching since 1987.  He has published widely in philosophy and other disciplines, and his books include Essays on Henry Sidgwick (Cambridge, 1992); Henry Sidgwick: Eye of the Universe (Cambridge, 2004, winner of the American Philosophical Society's Jacques Barzun Prize in Cultural History); The Happiness Philosophers: The Lives and Works of the Great Utilitarians (Princeton, 2017), and Utilitarianism as a Way of Life: Re-Envisioning Planetary Happiness (Polity, 2024).  He edited and contributed to, with G. Varouxakis, Utilitarianism and Empire (Lexington, 2005), and he edited and collaborated on the memoir of the civil rights movement legend Timuel D. Black, Sacred Ground: The Chicago Streets of Timuel Black(Northwestern, 2017).  He is on the Editorial Board of Utilitas, the leading professional journal of utilitarian studies, and he was a founding board member of PLATO, the Philosophy Learning and Teaching Organization.  He is currently working on a new edited volume, The Classical Utilitarians: Essential Readings (Broadview Press, forthcoming).

Programme Highlights

  • The Methods of Ethics as Prolegomenon: the Long, Strange Trip of Henry Sidgwick’, presented by Bart Schultz
  • ‘Sidgwick and Other Influencers’, presented by Peter Singer
  • ‘Sidgwick’s Nihilism’, presented by John Skorupski
  • With many more talks to be announced.

Reserve your ticket

For all other queries about the conference, please contact isus2024 {at} gmail.com