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The 2023 William H. Jellema Lecture: What To Do When You Don't Make a Difference

Dr. Andrew Chignell will deliver the 2023 William H. Jellema Lecture

Lecture Abstract:

Those of us who relish certain products of the global industrial economy but also believe that it is wrong to consume them are often so demoralized by the apparent inefficacy of our private, individual choices that we are unable to resist. My goals here are to explore the challenges that this sort of futility poses to our moral resolve in a variety of contexts, and to argue for an approach that is non-consequentialist at bottom -- but still sensitive to the role that consequences play in our moral psychology. Along the way I examine a number of different accounts of what it means to “make a difference” before articulating my own.

About the Lecturer:

Andrew Chignell is Laurence S. Rockefeller Professor in the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University. A graduate of Wheaton College and Yale University, he previously taught in the Philosophy departments at University of Pennsylvania and Cornell. His work focuses on the philosophy of Immanuel Kant and related early modern figures, philosophy of religion, the ethics of belief, and the moral psychology of hope and despair. From 2020-2023 he served as President of the North American Kant Society. Together with Matthew Halteman and Terence Cuneo, he is the co-editor of Philosophy Comes to Dinner (2016). His massive open online course on “Food Ethics” will be available in fall 2023 on

The William H. Jellema Lecture Series:

For over thirty years, the philosophy department at Calvin has brought some of the greatest minds in Christian philosophy and theology to participate in this prestigious lecture series. This prestigious lecture series is free and open to the public; we hope you'll join us. 


October 2023
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