Former member of the University’s Board of Trustees and legendary Wall Street trader, Irwin Guttag ’37 and his wife Marjorie Vogel Guttag ’38 established the Irwin and Marjorie Guttag Professor of Ethics and Political Philosophy. The holder of the Guttag Chair is a leading thinker in the field of ethics and applies principles of moral behavior, justice and good and evil to political philosophy.
Guttag, who served as a lieutenant in the Navy during World War II, was associated with Kaufman, Alsberg, and Company, a New York trading firm, where he was a senior partner and then president before his retirement in 1988. An arbitrage specialist and a pioneer in options, Guttag helped found both the New York Futures Exchange and the Chicago Board Options Exchange. He served on the board of directors of the New York Stock Exchange, the American Stock Exchange and the Chicago Board Options Exchange.
Guttag Professor David Sobel is best known for his extensive research on the connection between what a person values and what is good for her. Are options good for us, his research investigates, simply because we favor them, or must the options have their own value if they are to benefit us? Merely liking stuff, his current work argues, can make that stuff valuable for us even if it isn’t otherwise valuable. Consider the case of likings in matters of mere taste. But options can also have value independently of our attitudes—consider the case of knowledge—and the lives that are best for us involve recognizing and enjoying such values.
His From Valuing to Value was published by Oxford University Press in 2016. He is a founding co-editor of Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy. He has held residential fellowships at Princeton’s Rockefeller Center for Human Values, All Souls College at the University of Oxford, The Australian National University (twice), and The Centre for Ethics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs at The University of St. Andrews.