Larissa MacFarquhar, a staff writer at The New Yorker and author of Strangers Drowning: Voyages to the Brink of Moral Extremity, will deliver a discussion on radical goodness at the annual Aquinas Lecture on Tuesday, April 10 at 4 p.m. in room 5A of the Kelly Commons on campus.
MacFarquhar's talk will raise the question, “Can we be too good? Can we take the desire to do good too far?” For instance, charity may begin at home, but where should it end? Should we help the worst off, wherever they may be, or should we take care of our family and our own people first? Is need more vital than loyalty? Should we help strangers even at the expense of people we love? MacFarquhar will consider these questions by telling the stories of people who live lives of extraordinary moral commitment — for whom these issues are not theoretical but acutely real.
MacFarquhar has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1998. Her profile subjects have included John Ashbery, Barack Obama, Noam Chomsky, Hilary Mantel, Derek Parfit, David Chang, and Aaron Swartz, among many others. Before joining the magazine, she was a senior editor at Lingua Franca and an advisory editor at The Paris Review, and wrote for Artforum, The Nation, The New Republic, The New York Times Book Review, Slate, and other publications.
She has received two Front Page Awards from the Newswomen's Club of New York and the Academy Johnson & Johnson Excellence in Media Award. Her writing has appeared in “The Best American Political Writing” (2007 and 2009) and “The Best American Food Writing” (2008). She is an Emerson fellow at New America.
The event is open to the general public. Admission is free. It is sponsored by the School of Liberal Arts and the philosophy department.