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HPP/IRC Seminar Stewart Sutherland, "Greed, from Gordan Gekko to David Hume"

Stewart Sutherland delivers his talk "'Greed, from Gordan Gekko to David Hume" for the 2014-2015 Humane Philosophy Project/Ian Ramsey Centre seminar at Blackfrairs Hall, University of Oxford.

In a riveting scene from the film Wall Street, Gordon Gekko proclaims that “greed is good.” The great philosopher David Hume, on the other hand, describes greed as the most destructive of the vices. The recent banking debacle and continuing uproar about executive bonus pay has placed the controversial issue of greed at the very heart of how we view modern society. Is Gekko’s maxim simply in need of some moderation? Or is Hume’s view too extreme? In this talk I examine these conflicting notions and discuss how we might approach the problem of greed today. I look at the concept of incentives, which are essential for achieving results, and whether the desire for money is really as dangerous as it might seem.

STEWART SUTHERLAND, Baron Sutherland of Houndwood is a distinguished philosopher of religion and public servant. He is currently a fellow of Birkbeck College, University of London. He has served as Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh, Vice-Chancellor of the University of London, President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and Professor of History and Philosophy of Religion at King's College, London. Lord Sutherland is the author of many publications including Atheism and the Rejection of God: Contemporary Philosophy and 'The Brothers Karamazov' (1977), Faith and Ambiguity (1984), and God, Jesus and Belief: The Legacy of Theism (1984).


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