I would say that philosopher Tom Regan has made a name for himself, except that he has made two names for himself in his writings about ethics.
My own introduction to Regan’s work came because of my interest in G. E. Moore, the-turn-of-the-(last)-century British philosopher who famously argued that the ultimate “goods” — those that cannot be justified by reference to any other good — are the appreciation of experiences of beauty and the appreciation of relationships with other people. All other values, he argued, ultimately can be measured by their tendency to contribute to detract from those things. Moore’s ideas were very influential for the slightly younger generation of his students who became known as the Bloomsbury Group. Regan’s book Bloomsbury’s Prophet is very illuminating concerning Moore’s influence on Bloomsbury. As part of a program for Penn State faculty to integrate ethics issues into their teaching, I used Regan’s book to help create a unit on Moore’s aesthetics in my English classes about Bloomsbury.
So I was surprised to discover that “my” Tom Regan is even more famous to other people as a staunch advocate of animal rights, a position some stigmatize as extreme in the belief that only people get to have rights. Regan has written 5 books about animal rights, and there are a wad of websites where you can find out more about his views:
I am really curious about what unites these two areas of interest in the mind of one guy, so with the help of a lot of co-sponsors I’ve arranged to bring Regan to the Penn State University Park campus later this month.
On July 28th from 10:00 AM to noon, Regan will talk again in 273 Willard, this time focusing on his interest in animal rights.
I hope people will want to attend one — or both — talks. Thanks especially to the Vegetarian Club (and especially, especially) to Rusty Zufall ’10 for helping organize and fund these events, also to the Palmer Museum, the Philosophy Department, the staff of the English Department, and the interdisciplinary Visualizing Animals Group
On July 27th at 7:00 PM in the auditorium of the Palmer Museum, Regan will talk about the trajectory of his career in philosophy and offer an overview of Moore’s liberating influence on his own students a century ago. This talk is in conjunction with a major exhibition about the Bloomsbury group that is up at the Palmer all summer (until September 26), which I helped to put together (little plug for the show).