Philosopher

Saul Smilansky

I am a Professor at the Department of Philosophy of the University of Haifa, Israel. I work primarily on normative and applied ethics, the free will problem, and meaning in life. In normative and applied ethics and MIL I am particularly interested in moral paradoxes and other forms of "crazy ethics" where matters seem true (or at least plausible) yet absurd, moral theory, justice, the role of self-deception and illusion in our lives, population ethics, punishment, egalitarianism, moral complaint and hypocrisy, the influence of technology on the future of morality, gratitude, and the significance of contribution. On free will I have done various things. My main efforts have been, first, to open up the debate on the compatibility question to a pluralistic approach that sees both compatibilism and hard determinism (or other forms of free will and moral responsibility denialism) as partly valid and seeks to integrate them. Second, to explore Illusionism, the view that illusion is central and, in many ways, positive in the free will problem. I am the author of Free Will and Illusion (Oxford University Press 2000), 10 Moral Paradoxes (Blackwell 2007), and nearly one hundred papers in philosophical journals and edited collections.

I received my B.A. from Tel-Aviv University and my D.Phil from Oxford University (Magdalen College).

Recent Events

Talks

  •  An interview on some of my moral paradoxes and "Designer ethics" in The Dissentar, published June 2021. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gF96xR-t0Zw

  • "The Uses of Meta-Desert", in "Desert", Center for Moral and Political Philosophy Annual Conference, the Hebrew University; June 21-24 (online).

  • "Contribution, Replaceability and the Meaning of Our Lives", Israeli Philosophical Association Annual Meeting; 8 July 2021.

  • "Worship for Atheists", in "Worship and the Human", Hebrew University of Jerusalem; July 19-21 2021.

  • "The Outrageous Neglect of Gratitude and Some Reasons Behind It", Gratitude workshop, Stockholm University; October 15-16 2021 (online). 

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Publications