Category Archives: Barbara Fried

Barbara Fried

I would like to acknowledge a significant intellectual debt to Joe Bankman and our sons, Sam and Gabe. When Sam was about fourteen, he emerged from his bedroom one evening and said to me, seemingly out of the blue, “What kind of person dismisses an argument they disagree with by labelling it ‘the Repugnant Conclusion’?” Clearly, things were not as I, in my impoverished imagination, had assumed them to be in our household. Restless minds were at work making sense of the world around them without any help from me. In the years since, both Sam and Gabe have become take-no-prisoners utilitarians, joining their father in that hardy band. I am not (yet?) a card-carrying member myself, but in countless discussions around the kitchen table, literally and figuratively, about the subject of this book, they have taught me at least as much as I have taught them. More importantly, they have shown me by example the nobility of the ethical principle at the heart of utilitarianism: a commitment to the wellbeing of all people, and to counting each person—alive now or in the future, halfway around the world or next door, known or unknown to us—as one.

Barbara Fried, Facing Up to Scarcity: The Logic and Limits of Nonconsequentialist Thought, Oxford, 2020, p. xv