2013 Kenneth Mark Drain Chair in Ethics Lecture
Monday, November 11, 2013
Gzowksi College, room 115
Guest Speaker: Dr. John Thorp"Ethics,Sex & Religion: a Tectonic Shift"
It is now a decade since the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled that equal marriage was a constitutional right, and so triggered a domino-fall of similar rulings across the country. Ten years on, I suggest that a much deeper change was happening in the public mind. Not just a change in our particular ethical values, but a change in our understanding of how those ethical values are to be grounded: the understanding of what ethics are. It was a tectonic shift, very destabilizing on the surface, very unsettling for many people. What was giving way was the confidence -- the unexamined presupposition -- that ethics had an ultimate anchor in religion. The debates about gay rights and gay marriage, for reasons that I will explain, delivered the death blow to that confidence. And, unanchored in religion, ethics seemed unanchored altogether, freefloating: we were adrift on an ocean of relativism. And that can look very scary indeed. This lecture explores the dynamics of this tectonic shift as it played out in Canada , and considers some of the questions to which it gives rise.
Dr. John Thorp earned his B.A. at Trent University in 1970. At Oxford University, he earned a B.Phil. in 1972 and a D.Phil. in 1976. He is currently a member of the Philosophy Department, Graduate Faculty in Classical Stuides an in Theology and the Rotman Institute of Philosophy at the University of Western Ontario. His interests include ancient Greek philosophy and science, metaphysics, and philosophy of religion.