“Answers to five questions on normative ethics”

In Jesper Ryberg & Thomas S. Peterson (eds.), Normative Ethics: Five Questions. Automatic Press/VIP (2007)
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I came late to philosophy and even later to normative ethics. When I started my undergraduate studies at the University of Toronto in 1970, I was interested in mathematics and languages. I soon discovered, however, that my mathematical talents were rather meager compared to the truly talented. I therefore decided to study actuarial science (the applied mathematics of risk assessment for insurance and pension plans) rather than abstract math. After two years, however, I dropped out of university, went to work for a life insurance company, and started studying on my own for the ten professional actuarial exams. When not studying, I would often go to the public library and I was drawn to the philosophy section—although I had no idea of what philosophy was about. I there saw Logical Positivism, edited by A.J. Ayer. I was interested in logical thinking and I also favored an optimistic attitude towards life (!) and so I thought that the book might be interesting. I checked it out and was absolutely enthralled with the writings of Bertrand Russell, Rudolf Carnap, Carl Hempel and others (if I’m remembering correctly). Of course, I didn’t really understand much of what they were doing, but I did see that they were addressing important problems in a systematic and rigorous manner. I liked it!
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