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The 2023 Rotman Lecture will be delivered by Dr. Paul Bloom, Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto and author of the 2021 book, The Sweet Spot: The Pleasures of Suffering and the Search for Meaning.


We occasionally act in ways that are wrong—morally or otherwise—at least partially because of the wrongness, as when we break a rule just for the sake of breaking it. I explore different theories of such perverse actions, including failures of thought suppression, signalling, strategic behaviour, expressions of autonomy, and “hopeful monsters”. Some of these theories fail to properly explain perversity, but some are more successful. I suggest that the study of perverse actions can tell us some interesting things about human nature.


Portrait of Paul Bloom. Image credit: Greg Martin

Paul Bloom is Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto, and Brooks and Suzanne Ragen Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Yale University.

Paul Bloom studies how children and adults make sense of the world, with special focus on pleasure, morality, religion, fiction, and art. He has won numerous awards for his research and teaching. He is past-president of the Society for Philosophy and Psychology, and co-editor of Behavioral and Brain Sciences. He has written for scientific journals such as Nature and Science, and for popular outlets such as The New York Times, The Guardian, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic Monthly. He is the author of six books, including his most recent, The Sweet Spot: The Pleasures of Suffering and the Search for Meaning.

Attendance will be free, but advance registration is requested. Please register here.

Image credit: Logan Weaver (Unsplash)

This event is prepared in partnership with the Rotman Institute of Philosophy and the London Public Library.

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