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Society and Community:
Philosopher Sissela Bok
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Bill Moyers speaks to Sissela Bok, writer and philosopher, on her most recent essay and Lowell Lecture at Harvard University, "The Pursuits of Happiness." Read the full text of the lecture (pdf) or see what philosophers across the ages have said on the subject of happiness.

Sissela Bok

Sissela Bok was born in Sweden and educated in Switzerland and France before coming to the United States. She received her B.A. and M.A. in psychology at the George Washington University in 1957 and 1958, and her Ph. D. in philosophy at Harvard University in 1970. Formerly a Professor of Philosophy at Brandeis University, Bok is currently a Senior Visiting Fellow at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies.

The third edition of her book LYING: MORAL CHOICE IN PRIVATE AND PUBLIC LIFE (1978), for which she received the George Orwell Award and the Melcher Book Award, was reissued in 1999 with a new preface. Other books include SECRETS: ON THE ETHICS OF CONCEALMENT AND REVELATION (1982, 1989); A STRATEGY FOR PEACE: HUMAN VALUES AND THE THREAT OF WAR (1989); ALVA MYRDAL: A DAUGHTER'S MEMOIR (1991), for which she received the Melcher Book Award; COMMON VALUES (1996, reissued in 2002 with a new preface); and MAYHEM: VIOLENCE AS PUBLIC ENTERTAINMENT (1998). With John Behnke, Bok has co-edited THE DILEMMAS OF EUTHANASIA (1975) and, with Daniel Callahan, ETHICS TEACHING IN HIGHER EDUCATION (1980). With Gerald Dworkin and R. G. Frey, she has co-authored EUTHANASIA AND PHYSICIAN-ASSISTED SUICIDE (1998). She has written introductions to MOHANDAS GANDHI, AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY: THE STORY OF MY EXPERIMENTS WITH TRUTH (1993); GUNNAR MYRDAL, AN AMERICAN DILEMMA, 50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION (1996); and the 100-year anniversary reissue of Henry Sidgwick’s 1898 PRACTICAL ETHICS (1998).

A former member of the Pulitzer Prize Board, Bok is on the editorial boards of the Bulletin of the World Health Organization, Criminal Justice Ethics, and Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. She holds honorary doctorates from Mount Holyoke College, George Washington University, Clark University, the University of Massachusetts at Boston, and Georgetown University. She has received the Abram L. Sachar Silver Medallion from the Brandeis University National Women's Committee; the Radcliffe Society Graduate Medal; the Barnard College Medal of Distinction; the Hastings Center Henry Knowles Beecher Award, the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Centennial Award; and the St. Botolph Foundation Award for Distinction in Literature.

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