Major Lectures

Kant Lecture Series with Dr. Elizabeth Anderson - Lecture 1

Elizabeth Anderson headshot

Photo Credit: David Paterson

Wed May 18th 2022, 5:30 - 7:00pm
Building 380-380c and via Zoom
Admission Information

Open to the public

The Kant Lecture series is an annual tradition of the Stanford Philosophy Department. It takes place over the course of three days and includes two lectures and a discussion seminar, which are presented by a distinguished philosopher.

Dr. Elizabeth Anderson is the speaker for 2022.  

May 18: Lecture 1: ‘What should the work ethic mean for us today?’

Abstract: The work ethic was invented by Puritan theologians nearly 400 years ago.  From the start, it contained contradictory ideas:  one rationalizing the subjection of workers to drudgery for maximum profit; the other honoring workers for advancing human welfare and calling for their dignified and equitable treatment.  Both ideas were developed and institutionalized over time in the U.S. and Europe, leaving a contradictory legacy for us today.  I show how the neglected second work ethic tradition can be revived and updated for 21st-century American workers.

5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Building 380-380c and via Zoom


May 19: Lecture 2: ‘Outsourcing, the Criminalization of Poverty and the Proletarianization of the Professional-Managerial Class

Abstract: In this talk, I link three notable trends in 21st century neoliberal policy: (1) the outsourcing of state functions to private, for-profit firms; (2) the criminalization of poverty, and (3) the demotion of a large portion of the professional-managerial class to a deskilled, subordinated, precarious status, stripped of autonomy over how they perform their duties. All three trends are legacies of what I call the "conservative" work ethic, a secularized descendant of the Puritan work ethic of the 17th c. Although better-known than its "progressive" or pro-worker version, the conservative work ethic amounts to a hijacking of the work ethic by its original targets of critique--the idle and predatory rich. Bentham was a leading proponent of the first two trends. I shall show how the third follows from the first, by the logic of profit-maximization.

5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Building 380-380c and via Zoom


May 20: Discussion

3:30 PM to 5:30 PM

 Building 380-380W (in person only)

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