Portrait Photograph of Harry Brighouse

Harry Brighouse


Department of Philosophy | Education Policy Studies Harry

Harry Brighouse has taught at UW–Madison since 1992. A well-known philosopher of education, and commentator on educational policy issues, he has advised policymakers at the state level in Wisconsin and the national level in his native UK. He has recently finished a philosophical book about justice and family life, and is currently working on a book about justice and higher education, focusing especially on the duties professors have toward their students.


Cultivating the 21st Century Mind

A talk about what qualities K-12 educators should be aiming to develop in their students.

Approximate Length of Talk: 20 minutes to 1 hour

How to Rehumanize the University Here and Now

A talk about why it is important to, and how to, improve the student experience in college, and what faculty in particular should do about it.

Approximate Length of Talk: 20 minutes to 1 hour

Education and Opportunity

A talk about inequality of opportunity and how it shapes, and is influenced by, the education system.

Approximate Length of Talk: 20 minutes to 1 hour

What's so great about the family, anyway?

Everybody agrees that the family is important. But often the family is invoked as a reason to resist measures that would make society more just, because those measures are portrayed as reducing the freedom of families to conduct their own affairs their own way. Professor Brighouse will propose that this thought is usually based on a mistake about *why* the family is valuable. He argues that what is so great about the family is that it enables both adults and children to have valuable relationships and experiences for which there is no substitute; and that social justice requires that everyone be able to have these experiences. Measures that enhance social justice, he thinks, usually enhance, rather than contradicting, family values.

Approximate Length of Talk: 20 minutes to 1 hour

Ethical reform of the college admissions system

The admissions system for selective colleges involves a great deal of waste, and some very questionable practices. Driven by the need to perform well in the US News college rankings, the incentive is to appear as selective and attractive as possible. The way to do this is by marketing so as to increase the applicant pool (so that the college can reject more students) and admit those students who are most likely to accept (so the college can have a high “yield”). This leads not just to wasteful spending on marketing, but to wasteful competition among high school students and an attitude that goes against important educational values. Professor Brighouse will outline some proposals for reforming the college admissions system so that it better aligns with educational values.

Approximate Length of Talk: 20 minutes to 1 hour

Why do we educate?

How we educate students needs to match why we educate them. The impact of education is lasting. Harry Brighouse will share how we should educate children so that they can have a flourishing life, and will contribute to others having flourishing lives. What does education look like to support this goal? This, he argues, requires considerable changes in what we teach, how we teach, and in the way that schools, and colleges, are organized. He will discuss matters as technical as how students should be tested, and as simple as how long the school lunch break should be.

Approximate Length of Talk: 20 minutes to 1 hour