In the Eye of the Storm
How the Rhodes College philosophy department successfully resisted attempts to cancel Peter Singer's talk.
In fall 2021, the philosophy department at Rhodes College invited the bioethicist Peter Singer to speak to the school. A controversial and important figure, the New Yorker has called Singer the “world’s most influential living philosopher,” and in 2005, Time Magazine named him one of most influential people alive.
But as one of the world’s foremost utilitarian philosophers, some of Singer’s positions have earned him detractors. In the build-up to his talk on “Pandemic Ethics,” several Rhodes students and faculty waged a campaign to have him disinvited on the grounds that “his reprehensible beliefs … deny the very humanity of people with disabilities.”
At a time when other schools like MIT were cancelling speakers deemed problematic, the philosophy department at Rhodes stood firm. In today’s episode, host Amna Khalid speaks with department chair Rebecca Tuvel and professor Daniel Cullen about how and why they refused to disinvite Singer.