Established in 1976, the Tanner Lectures on Human Values seek to advance and reflect upon the scholarly and scientific learning relating to human values. The lectures, which are permanently sponsored at nine institutions, including Yale, are free and open to the public.
The Tanner Lectures are funded by an endowment received by the University of Utah from Obert Clark Tanner and Grace Adams Tanner. The lectureship embraces the deep humanistic values and interests of the Tanners. Grace’s interests drew her toward biology and anthropology, where she contributed generously, while Obert joined the faculty of philosophy at the University of Utah, where he focused on moral philosophy and philosophy of religion.
Yale first hosted a Tanner Lecture in 1989 with political historian John Pocock’s lecture on Edward Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Lecturers in subsequent years have included humanists from a wide range of fields, including Elaine Scarry, Salman Rushdie, Oliver Sacks, Paul Gilroy, Bruno Latour, and Judith Butler. Most recently, political theorist Wendy Brown delivered the 2019 Tanner Lectures on Human Values, with talks jointly titled “Politics and Knowledge in Nihilistic Times: Thinking with Max Weber.”