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Work and Idleness

UCD Centre for Ethics in Public Life

In February 2020 the UCD Centre for Ethics in Public Life hosted a series of public lectures at MoLI, each looking at ethical questions that impact personal, public and professional spheres. The lectures featured prominent researchers in ethics from University College Dublin, and were held in MoLI’s Old Physics Theatre.

During the age of Enlightenment new types of criticisms of idleness began to appear. Philosophers opposed idleness not on the traditional ground that it would require others to work. Rather it prevented each of us from realising our talents and skills. Idlers were supposedly akin to 'savages' and 'barbarians'.

This lecture, delivered on 4 February 2020 by Professor Brian O’Connor, looks at some of the strange and biased arguments against idleness found among these philosophers. Brian O'Connor is Full Professor of Philosophy at University College Dublin. He is the author of Idleness: A Philosophical Essay (Princeton, 2018) together with a number of other monographs and edited volumes on Modern German Philosophy.

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