by Mallory Medeiros, Ph.D. Candidate

The BU Ethics Seminar talks always focus on current philosophical issues, but this year they have also involved themes that have been of great interest outside of the philosophical community during the pandemic. These themes include promoting our own well-being and identifying the things that we value most. Recent speakers offered new views on these themes: Valerie Tiberius (University of Minnesota) was concerned with the former and Gwen Bradford (Rice University) focused on the latter.

Professor Tiberius presented her theory of well-being—the value fulfillment theory—which claims that the best life is one where we fulfill over time the values that are personally important to us. Psychological studies indicate that the integration of our unconscious goals is crucial to achieving a high level of total value fulfillment, so she offered several methods of integration (e.g., revising particular values that are in conflict). Professor Bradford offered a novel account of irreplaceable value and its structure. On her account, irreplaceable value is intrinsic value due to properties that, on their own, are unreinstantiable. Examples include unique artworks and dinosaur bones. Overall, both talks offered new insights into significant themes of the past two years and will thus help us be better ethicists not only in academic terms but also in our personal lives.