Authors Citing this Paper: Parfit (Derek)
- “Dear David. I hope you won’t be too disappointed. But I’m writing to ask you not to publish this article.”
- David Edmonds, the philosopher and broadcaster, was not disappointed. He was distraught. He had spent days researching and writing a draft of a long piece (for Prospect magazine) about the unusual marriage of Derek Parfit and his wife, also an important philosopher, Janet Radcliffe Richards. Parfit had been unhappy with a few aspects of a New Yorker profile of him, and so Edmonds thought it wise to fact-check his effort. Parfit said that Edmonds had committed numerous errors, which he then detailed over two pages.
- As Edmonds went through them, he realised that he had emailed a document containing his half-formed ideas and jottings by mistake. Only Derek Parfit could have believed that this gobbledegook was intended for publication. If you told him that a set of rambling non sequiturs was to appear in a prestigious periodical, that was what he believed.
- Parfit was one of the most important — if not the most important — moral philosophers in the world. Some of his contemporaries go further, making a compelling case that Parfit belongs to an elite canon alongside three other British philosophers in the utilitarian tradition: Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill and Henry Sidgwick.
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