Tanner Lectures

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2014 Tanner Lecture


The 2014 Tanner Lecture, Human Rights as Human Values, was given by Ms Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, on 15th May 2014 in the Museum of Natural History Lecture Theatre, Oxford.

Sami Chakrabarti

The lecture can be viewed or downloaded as audio or video.




History of the Tanner Lectures

Since 2013, Linacre College has been the base for the annual Tanner Lecture held in Oxford.  The Tanner Lectures were established by the American scholar, industrialist, and philanthropist, Obert Clark Tanner.  In creating the lectureships, Professor Tanner said, "I hope these lectures will contribute to the intellectual and moral life of mankind. I see them simply as a search for a better understanding of human behaviour and human values. This understanding may be pursued for its own intrinsic worth, but it may also eventually have practical consequences for the quality of personal and social life."

The purpose of the Tanner Lectures is to advance and reflect upon the scholarly and scientific learning relating to human values. This intention embraces the entire range of values pertinent to the human condition, interest, behaviour, and aspiration. The lectures are published in an annual volume.  The Lectures on Human Values are an authentic expression of the personalities and interests of Obert and Grace Tanner — their moral integrity, their generosity and compassion, their concern for peace and the public good, their commitment to reason and knowledge, their love of science, the arts and the humanities, and their passion for life.

Appointment as a Tanner lecturer is a recognition for uncommon achievement and outstanding abilities in the field of human values. The lecturers may be elicited from philosophy, religion, the humanities, the sciences, the creative arts, and learned professions, or from leadership in public or private affairs. The lectureships are international and intercultural and transcend ethnic, national, religious, and ideological distinctions.

Both of the Tanners were of British ancestry, descended from early Mormon pioneers. They were reared close to the soil in strong rural religious environments, their characters moulded by hard work, community solidarity, and the old-fashioned virtues of decency and honesty. Grace's interests inclined toward the sciences, especially biology and anthropology, fields where she contributed generously. Obert studied at the University of Utah in philosophy and law. After receiving his law degree, he pursued philosophy at both Harvard University and Stanford University. At Stanford he was appointed to the faculty in religion as well as acting chaplain.

Obert Tanner was a great Friend of Linacre College, and his daughter, Carolyn Tanner Irish, is an Old Member and Honorary Fellow.


2013 Tanner Lecture

Professor Michael Ignatieff
Representation and Responsibility: Ethics and Public Office

Click here for an audio recording of the lecture delivered on 30th May 2013.