Department of Psychology

Philosopher David Benatar to present talk on ‘giving and taking offense’

Event is noon-1:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 16, in Oakland Center Gold Rooms B and C

icon of a calendarFebruary 15, 2023

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Philosopher David Benatar to present talk on ‘giving and taking offense’
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What is offense? When is it wrong to offend, and when is it not? How should people respond to those whose actions offend others? South African philosopher David Benatar will explore those questions during a talk titled “Giving and Taking Offense” at Oakland University on Thursday, March 16. The event will take place from noon-1:30 p.m. in Oakland Center Gold Rooms B and C. 

With a focus on ethical questions about offense, Professor Benatar will consider different kinds of offense with illustrated cases, both hypothetical and real. He writes: “There is nothing new about offense. However, offense seems to have a new kind of moral or social power. If offense is taken, it does not seem to matter whether it was given. To offend somebody is, it is thought, to offend against that person. Offense – which has become pervasive – invites disapproval of, and often sanctions against, the person who offended.”

Professor Benatar’s talk is part of the OU Department of Psychology Research Lecture Series organized by Psychology Professor Martha Escobar, with support from OU’s Center for Evolutionary Psychological Science.

“We are thrilled to welcome Professor Benatar to OU,” said Dr. Todd Shackelford, distinguished professor and chair of OU’s Department of Psychology. “He is an outstanding scholar of international renown. Professor Benatar has thought deeply about some of the most pressing ethical issues, including giving and taking offense.” 

Professor Benatar is a professor of philosophy and director of the Bioethics Centre at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. He is best known for his work on anti-natalism, which posits that it is morally wrong to produce new sentient life. He also has addressed discrimination against men and boys, vegetarianism and veganism, and various topics in medical ethics. He is the author of several books, including “Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming into Existence,” “The Second Sexism: Discrimination Against Men and Boys,” and “The Human Predicament: A Candid Guide to Life’s Biggest Questions.”

Professor Benatar is among the founding external board members of OU’s Center for Evolutionary Psychological Science and is on the editorial board of Evolutionary Psychological Science and the Journal of Controversial Ideas.

The lecture is open to all OU students, faculty and staff. For more information, contact Dr. Todd Shackelford at

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