Five: Prof Will MacAskill on moral uncertainty, utilitarianism & how to avoid being a moral monster
Play • 1 hr 53 min

Immanuel Kant is a profoundly influential figure in modern philosophy, and was one of the earliest proponents for universal democracy and international cooperation. He also thought that women have no place in civil society, that it was okay to kill illegitimate children, and that there was a ranking in the moral worth of different races.

Throughout history we’ve consistently believed, as common sense, truly horrifying things by today’s standards. According to University of Oxford Professor Will MacAskill, it’s extremely likely that we’re in the same boat today. If we accept that we’re probably making major moral errors, how should we proceed?

In this conversation from 2018, Will makes the case that we need to develop a moral view that criticises common sense intuitions, and gives us a chance to move beyond them.

Full transcript, related links, and summary of this interview

This episode first broadcast on the regular 80,000 Hours Podcast feed on January 19, 2018. Some related episodes include:

• #16 – Dr Hutchinson on global priorities research & shaping the ideas of intellectuals
• #42 – Amanda Askell on moral empathy, the value of information & the ethics of infinity
• #67 – Dave Chalmers on the nature and ethics of consciousness
• #68 – Will MacAskill on the paralysis argument, whether we're at the hinge of history, & his new priorities
• #72 – Toby Ord on the precipice and humanity's potential futures
• #73 – Phil Trammell on patient philanthropy and waiting to do good
• #86 – Hilary Greaves on Pascal's mugging, strong longtermism, and whether existing can be good for us

Series produced by Keiran Harris.

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