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Benn grew up in Blackheath, South East London with parents June, a romantic novelist, and David Wedgwood Benn, a BBC producer and Russian specialist. David was a brother of Labour politician Tony Benn. Piers was educated at Eltham College in Mottingham until 1980, and gained his BA Hons. degree (First Class) in Philosophy & Modern Languages from Oxford University (Magdalen College, 1984). He received his PhD degree in philosophy ("Human Death: its Nature and Significance") from Birkbeck College, University of London (1992). He has taught at the University of St. Andrews, University of Leeds, Imperial College London (University of London), and King's College London. He is currently (2015) a Visiting Lecturer at Heythrop College in London, and an Adjunct Professor at the London Centre of Fordham University New York. He has also written articles in various journals and appeared on British media, including BBC.
His 1997 book Ethics, re-issued by Routledge in 2000, is a textbook for undergraduate courses. The book is both an introduction into the subject and a substantive argument in favor of the neo-Aristotelian view of the objectivity of moral claims. It covers the following topics, in the corresponding chapters.
- Authority and relativism
- The objectivity of morality
- Kant's ethics
- Free will and the moral emotions
- Reasoning about ethics
His 2011 book 'Commitment' (Acumen Press) is one of the books in Acumen Press' 'Art of Living' series. It discusses the value of, and obstacles to, personal commitment - especially in the areas of love, work, and faith.
Commenting on Islamophobia in New Humanist, Benn suggests that people who fear the rise of Islamophobia foster an environment "not intellectually or morally healthy", to the point that what he calls "Islamophobia-phobia" can undermine "critical scrutiny of Islam as somehow impolite, or ignorant of the religion's true nature", encouraging "sentimental pretence that all claims to religious truth are somehow 'equal', or that critical scrutiny of Islam (or any belief system) is ignorant, prejudiced, or 'phobic'".
Commitment (Art of Living series), Acumen Press 2011.
- Ethics, "Fundamentals of Philosophy" series, McGill-Queen's University Press / UCL Press, 1997 ISBN 0-7735-1700-6 (hardcover), ISBN 0-7735-1701-4 (paperback, 1998), Routledge, 1997 ISBN 1-85728-453-4 (paperback), ISBN 1-85728-679-0 (hardcover), ISBN 0-203-04628-5 (e-book)
- "How Should We Treat the Dead?", in Thinking about Death, British Humanist Association (2002)
- Is Nothing Sacred?, essays, by Richard Norman, Piers Benn, Simon Blackburn, and Michael Clark, 2004, Routledge (see description)
- Theistic Proofs. Does belief in God require evidence? - talk given on Oct 24, 2003 at Queens' College, Cambridge
- "On Islamophobia-phobia", New Humanist, Vol.117, Issue 2 (Summer 2002)
- Middleton, Stanley (18 April 2006). "June Benn". The Independent. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
- Brandon, Ruth (2 May 2006). "June Benn". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
- Webb, Alban (1 March 2017). "David Wedgwood Benn obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
- Members of the Humanist Philosophers' Group, BHA
- "Night Waves" 2005, Radio 3, BBC
- A review of Benn's Ethics, The Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 50, No. 200 (2000), pp. 410-412
- Letter to Tony Blair about teaching Creationism in schools