Applied Ethics

By In Applied Ethics, News and Events Comments Off on Call for Participation: Climate Ethics and Climate Economics

Call for Participation: Climate Ethics and Climate Economics

Call for Participation

Climate Ethics And Climate Economics: Risk, Uncertainty and Catastrophe Scenarios

Workshop at the University of Cambridge

Convened by Simon Beard (with Kai Spiekermann), supported by the ESRC, in partnership with the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk

8-10 May 2017

Accompanied by public lectures given by Professor Doyne Farmer and Professor Hilary Greaves on the evenings of the 8th and 10th of May.

The fifth of six ESRC-funded workshops on Climate Ethics and Climate Economics.


We are now looking for participants.

Confirmed Speakers

Matthew Rendall (University of Nottingham)

John Halstead (University of Oxford)

Elizabeth Baldwin (University of Oxford)

Doyne Farmer (Oxford Martin School)

Tina Sikka (University of Newcastle)

Iñaki San Pedro (University of the Basque Country)

Eike Düvel (University of Graz)

Hilary Greaves (Future of Humanity Institute)

Mariam Thalos (University of Utah)

Kieran Marray (University of Oxford)

Workshop Description

Some scholars, most notably Martin Weitzman (2009; 2011) have warned that there is an uncertain chance of runaway climate change that could devastate the planet. At least since Hans Jonas’s The Imperative of Responsibility (1981), some have argued that even low-probability existential risks should be treated in a fundamentally different way. How should we act when we believe that there is some chance of a catastrophe, but cannot make reliable probability estimates (Elster 1979; Haller 2002; Gardiner 2005)? How much should we worry about worst-case scenarios? What should we do when experts disagree about whether catastrophe is possible?

Papers will be pre-circulated, with short presentations and comments from discussants.

Please pre-register here.



Love this idea? Nominate it for the Annual PEA Soup Awards!

Read more

By In Applied Ethics Comments (1)

Justice and equal opportunity in higher education

In February of this year, scholars released an analysis of a massive data set of 30 million college students born between 1980 and 1991, that included their economic backgrounds, college attended, and post-college earnings. The findings provide us with an opportunity to revisit a long-standing concern with justice and equal opportunity in higher education.[1]

There has been much attention in recent years to whether lower income students are adequately represented at selective colleges, especially elite colleges. Some of those colleges have made serious efforts to admit a higher proportion of lower income students. The public discourse around these efforts generally operates with a tacit theory of equality of opportunity—that equality of opportunity entails that access to higher rungs on the existing hierarchy of colleges and universities be less dependent on a student’s financial resource background, and closer to being based on “merit,” however conceived. This is a milder version of the philosophic position taken by Rawls and other political philosophers, that such access be entirely independent of resource background and dependent only on talent and effort.


Love this idea? Nominate it for the Annual PEA Soup Awards!

Read more

By In Applied Ethics, Philosophy of Law Comments Off on Journal of Applied Philosophy Prizewinning Essay

Journal of Applied Philosophy Prizewinning Essay

Federico Picinali’s essay, “Base-Rates of Negative Traits: Instructions for Use in Criminal Trials,” has won the Journal of Applied Philosophy’s annual prize (of a thousand pounds) for best essay of the year (in JAP), and it is available to read open access here.

Love this idea? Nominate it for the Annual PEA Soup Awards!

Read more

By In Applied Ethics, Business Ethics Comments (2)

Where Does Business Ethics Happen?

[From the Editors: We’re happy to introduce to you Jeff Moriarty, Chair of the Department of Philosophy at Bentley University, who will occasionally post about a variety of topics pertaining to business ethics. We soon hope to introduce experts in various other fields of applied ethics as well to provide posts about topics in those fields.]

Suppose you have an interest in ethical issues that attend commercial activities and/or productive organizations. Where might you go to learn more, or to present to your work? To a conference in business ethics, of course! But where are those?

Both philosophers (and other normative folks) and social scientists “do” business ethics, though in different ways. Very roughly: philosophers think about what is right in business, while social scientists think about what the causes and effects of right behavior in business are. So it is worth deciding what sort of people you want to talk with before deciding where to go. Here are some options, with the more “philosophical” options at the top, and the more “social science-y” options at the bottom.


Love this idea? Nominate it for the Annual PEA Soup Awards!

Read more

By In Applied Ethics, The Profession, Uncategorized Comments Off on Thoughts on Divesting from For-Profit Prisons

Thoughts on Divesting from For-Profit Prisons

Considerations in favor of supporting such divestment and advice about how to get started here.

Love this idea? Nominate it for the Annual PEA Soup Awards!

Read more

By In Applied Ethics, Character, Ideas, Virtue Comments (6)

The Morality of Library Fines

My local library fines its patrons ten cents per overdue book per day. They will let you continue to borrow books as long as your fine balance is less than $10. As an academic, I sort of think of library fines as a cost of doing business, and I frequently carry a balance in library fines of a few dollars. (To be clear: I mostly incur these fines on books taken out for pleasure reading. What I mean is that I don’t have a moralistic attitude about my library fines.) Since there are no interest charges or time limits, I can carry such a balance for months on end. I’m following the rules, not cheating anyone, and I have never felt bad about my habit of being a few bucks in debt to the library.


Love this idea? Nominate it for the Annual PEA Soup Awards!

Read more

By In Applied Ethics, Ideas, Normative Ethics Comments (8)

Sex Work is Different

This post was inspired by a story in the WaPo, the relevant detail of which is that, due to the economic hardship in Greece, some young Greek women are selling sex for the price of a sandwich they cannot otherwise afford to buy. Also, the argument I want to make may be old news; this is not a topic where I have a lot of familiarity with the literature.

There are basically two moral views about sex work, which I will define for present purposes as the exchange of money for some form of sex in short-term, one-off transactions. (So, here, sex work is prostitution.) One view is that sex work is a lot like other kinds of work, except it is mostly performed by women and, due to various kinds of sexism and discrimination, has historically been stigmatized and exploited labor. The right course is to learn to treat sex work as normal work, and enact appropriate regulation that protects the sex workers, in the same spirit one would legally protect other kinds of workers.

The other moral view, which I take to be encoded in most state laws in the US (I can’t speak for elsewhere), is that sex work is morally problematic in some deeper way. The usual thought, I believe, is that it degrades the sex worker; sex work is intrinsically undignified. The proper way to handle sex work is to proscribe it entirely, where this is practical, and in any case discourage it.   What follows is an argument in favor of this general view.


Love this idea? Nominate it for the Annual PEA Soup Awards!

Read more