Despite existing for thousands of years, the field of ethics remains strongly influenced by several largely unquestioned assumptions and cognitive biases that can dramatically affect our priorities. The Tango of Ethics: Intuition, Rationality and the Prevention of Suffering (Exeter: Imprint Academic, 2023) proposes a deep, rigorous reassessment of how we think about ethics. Eschewing the traditional language of morality, it places a central emphasis on phenomenological experience and the unique urgency of suffering wherever it occurs. It also challenges our existence bias and examines the consequences of a metaphysically accurate understanding of personal identity.
A key paradigm in The Tango of Ethics is the conflict and interplay between two fundamentally different ways of seeing and being in the world — that of the intuitive human being who wants to lead a meaningful life and thrive, and that of the detached, rational agent who wants to prevent unbearable suffering from occurring. The book explores the implications of this way of thinking for real-world ethical dilemmas and how we might incorporate it into governance.
"Nearly all of us, philosophers or not, should attach much greater weight to the prevention of severe suffering. This engaging, accessible, and wide-ranging book provides many highly suggestive arguments in support of this claim."
-Roger Crisp, Professor of Moral Philosophy, University of Oxford
"Leighton’s The Tango of Ethics is a well-researched book addressing the most important topic in our universe – the suffering of sentient beings and its implications for ethics, philosophy and technology."
-Roman V. Yampolskiy, Associate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Louisville, editor of Artificial Intelligence Safety and Security
"In The Tango of Ethics, Jonathan Leighton explores the most important question we can ask ourselves: what matters? Through the interplay of intuition and rationality, he weaves a compassionate and supremely urgent answer: the prevention of intense suffering. Questioning old assumptions, he charts a radical yet pragmatic path forward that is consistent both with the constraints of rationality and with our deepest needs and intuitions."
-Magnus Vinding, co-founder of the Center for Reducing Suffering, author of Suffering-Focused Ethics and Reasoned Politics