Piers Benn

Conundrums and Controversies

About me

DSC00256Welcome to my blog. I am a philosopher and medical ethicist, a Visiting Lecturer at Heythrop College London and Fordham University New York (based at Heythrop) and have lectured at a number of UK universities, including St. Andrews, Leeds, Imperial College London and King’s College London. My doctoral thesis (Birkbeck College, London) was on ‘Human Death: its Nature and Significance’ but since then I hope I have become less grandiose. My first book Ethics was first published in 1997 and has been reprinted several times by Routledge. My latest book (2011) is Commitmentfor the Art of Living series of Acumen Press. It explores the value of, and obstacles to, personal commitment in matters of love, work and faith. My interests range widely but focus on applied philosophy – especially freedom and toleration, philosophy of religion and philosophy of psychiatry. Within the last category, I am particularly intrigued by sociopaths and addicts.

I am on the Battle of Ideas Committee of the Institute of Ideas and I co-produced and spoke at panel discussions on ‘Crime and Punishment: what are prisons for?’ (2011), ‘Religion, Spirituality or Neither’ (2012), ‘Sacrifice and philanthropy: what’s in it for me? (2013) and ‘Romantic love: just an illusion?’ (which I produced and chaired in 2014) at the Battle of Ideas annual conferences at the Barbican in London.

My media appearance include Channel Four News, ITV News, Sky News, BBC News Channel, See Hear (BBC 2), The Moral Maze (Radio 4), The World Tonight (Radio 4), Night Waves (Radio 3), Radio 5 Live, The Colin Bell Show (BBC Radio Scotland), Newshour (BBC World Service), Resonance FM and BBC Radio Leeds, for which I was a regular contributor while a philosophy lecturer at Leeds University in the 1990s.

I have published many articles for both academic and semi-popular journals. I have also published online commentaries for Independent Voices and The Times. I intend my blog to contain reflections on the ideas behind topical and not-so-topical questions and disputes. I am an unpredictable user of Twitter, and I use Facebook for inane banter, japes and keeping up with friends.

10 thoughts on “About me

  1. Dear Piers,
    I would like contact details for you, and also for Jo North if you still have them.
    Best, Roger

    • Roger, I’ve sent you a reply to your email address as shown in your post – hope you got it. I notice it is different to the email address I had for you about ten years ago. P

  2. Dear Piers, we met at a workshop at the University of Lancaster, I think, a couple of years ago. Any chance of sending me your email? I have a small favour to ask.

  3. It’s already 2014 and I’m anxious to read more from you. Where can I find your latest works?

    • Hi Christy,
      I’m flattered that you are now following me, but now feel obliged to produce more posts. I’m working on one on de-conversion at present. I haven’t gone dormant…
      Hope to hear from you soon.
      Piers

  4. Dear Piers, I recently read your article “The Shackles of Superstition.” Did you ever receive any critiques on this article? Do you any current opinions on it in terms of where you might have changed your mind?

    • Dear John Persico – thank you for reading my article. It was written more than 20 years ago and I don’t have it to hand, but I suspect myu views have changed a bit since I wrote it. I considered my agnostic when I wrote it and I still do (more or less), but after reflection over the last few years I am moving in a more atheist direction and have a bit less sympathy for the view that religious experience is a route to religious truth – in particular, that there is a God who communicates with us, and that we are justified in believing that he has done so. I still regard these issues as complex and fascinating, though. I can’t recall that I received any written critiques of my article though. Perhaps they exist, but I don’t recall coming across any.
      Yours sincerely,
      Piers Benn

  5. Hi Piers,

    I’m Charlotte a producer at 5 News. Trying to get in touch with you about a possible interview. Can you get in touch?
    im on 0207 430 4328

  6. Hello Piers…from a Imperial College student of about 15 years ago…
    Was searching for an article of yours and happened upon this page, too.
    Wanted to say thanks for that extraordinary year and all it has subsequently made possible for me.
    Kevin

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