Written in his trademark prose — repetitive, intricate, and rhythmic — On What Matters is, among other things, the published version of Derek Parfit’s 2002 Tanner lectures, ‘What We Could Rationally Will’. It is a major philosophical event: the second monograph of one of the most important and influential living philosophers. And its scale and ambition are massive. This book presents a comprehensive theory of the metaphysics, epistemology, and substance of ethical thought. Its originality is often striking and its arguments profound. On What Matters is a monument that will shape the field for many years.

Although it goes far beyond the original lectures, this book preserves their informality, in part. Its style is engagingly, often eccentrically, conversational, filled with memorable examples and turns of phrase, passionate, at times inspiring, and enjoyable to read. The book begins with a helpful introduction by Samuel Scheffler, and a...

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