Hale Ethics Series, 2008-09

Sponsored by the Hale Chair in Applied Ethics


Thursday, September 18th, 4-5:30, Carlson Auditorium (76-1125)

Teaching Ethics via Sympathy

Dr. Deborah Mower (Youngstown State University)

I recently had an opportunity to teach an ethics course to inmates at the Mahoning County Juvenile Justice Center in Youngstown, Ohio. The motivation for the course was not only to provide the juveniles in the Center with additional programming and educational opportunities, but also to teach them some traditional moral theories in the hope that they would evaluate their past and future actions accordingly. Although the goal of the course was to teach the students traditional moral theories and their application, traditional approaches to teaching ethics are not appropriate given the students’ unique educational, sociological, and psychological factors. Consequently, I developed a course to teach them moral concepts and reasoning without high level theorizing, by trying to develop a natural Humean sympathy as the basis for moral deliberation and action. In this paper, I explain 1) how the course developed the students’ natural sympathy, 2) how sympathy can serve as a heuristic for more complicated moral reasoning in traditional ethical theories, and 3) some interesting implications for public policy regarding moral education and recidivism, as well as for teaching ethics courses generally.

Co-sponsored by the Department of Criminal Justice

Thursday, October 2nd, 4-5:30, Carlson Auditorium (76-1125)

Visiting Low-Income People – Education or Exploitation?

Dr. Kevin Outterson (Boston University School of Law)

Professor Otterson explores ethical critiques against educational tourism in developing countries and poorer communities in wealthy countries. Should US college students visit impoverished communities as part of an educational experience? Or are these programs inherently exploitive and voyeuristic?

Thursday, October 16th, 4-5:30, Carlson Auditorium (76-1125)

E-Voting: How to count 110% of the vote or more! Technological determinism and the limits of professional responsibility

Dr. Don Gotterbarn (East Tennesee State University)

Professionals frequently get lost in the intricacies of their profession and miss the broader responsibilities of their work. Electronic voting is examined as an example of the significant consequences of the failure of professional responsibility. Techniques to help identify these broader responsibilities and reduce significant professional errors, particularly in computer applications, will also be presented.

Co-sponsored by the Departments of Computer Science
and Software Engineering

Thursday, October 30th, 4-5:30, Carlson Auditorium (76-1125)

The Struggle for Regimes of Truth: Power, Artistic Expression and Leadership

Scott Boylston (Savannah College of Art and Design)

A carefully packaged idea can rarely be resisted by those too lazy to think for themselves, and in the right hands such an idea can be elevated to the status of cultural truth. Leaders and would-be leaders, in political, civic and commercial realms, strive to control the levers of power by crafting irresistible truths. Graphic designers use the power of visual persuasion to define these truths as either socially redemptive or corrosive, depending on their own intuitions. If, as Foucault has claimed, modern power owes its strength to the effects it produces at the levels of desire and knowledge, than those with access to and control of the mechanisms that influence modern desire must act in ways that are morally astute and ethically sound.

It has been said that leaders must become designers, and designers leaders. Such a statement must be followed by a strong questioning of what is at stake when effective performance in both of these arenas has no implicit relation to ethical motivations and behavior. This talk will consider frameworks of leadership studies and ethics as a means of exploring the dynamic interplay between leadership, power and artistic expression, and will use examples of visual resistance as its centerpiece.


Thursday, December 11th, 4-5:30, Liberal Arts A205

What Is an Ethical Scientist?

Dr. Jeffrey Kovac (Chemistry, University of Tennessee)

Almost all decisions made by scientists have an ethical dimension. In both the practice of science and the education of students it is essential that scientists understand the moral complexity of real-world situations, apply the relevant moral standards, and have the moral courage to make difficult choices, or the foundation of trust essential to the scientific enterprise will erode. In this presentation I will develop the fundamental concepts of scientific ethics and show how they apply to both the practice of science and the relationship between science and society.

and jointly sponsored
by the Department of Chemistry
and the College of Science

Science, Ethics and War: A Pacifist's Perspective

Friday, December 12th, 10-11:30, Science Building, A300

In this talk I will consider the ethical aspects of the question: should a scientist engage in war-related research, particularly use-inspired or applied research directed at the development of the means for the better waging of war. Because scientists are simultaneously professionals, citizens of a particular country, and human beings, they are subject to conflicting moral and practical demands. These demands are analyzed in the context of the three major views concerning the morality of war, realism, just war theory and pacifism, the requirements of professional codes of ethics and the common morality. Since modern total warfare, which is facilitated by the work of scientists and engineers, results in the killing of innocents, I conclude that most, if not all, war-related research should be considered at least as morally suspect and probably as morally prohibited.


Friday, May 1st, 9-5:30, Carlson Auditorium (76-1125)

Sustainability Ethics Conference

Braden Allenby, Lincoln Professor of Engineering & Ethics, Arizona State University

Bryan Norton, Distinguished Professor in Public Policy at Georgia Tech

David Orr, Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics, Oberlin College

Paul Thompson, W. K. Kellog Chair in Agricultural, Food, & Community Ethics at Michigan State University

William Shutkin, Director Initiative for Sustainable Development and Chair in Sustainable Development, University of Colorado at Boulder

Each of these participants will be responding to the following five questions:

1. Why is “sustainability” a contested concept?
2. How is your preferred definition of sustainability better than alternative accounts?
3. What is sustainability ethics, and how does it differ from more established forms of applied ethics, such as environmental ethics and business ethics?
4. What unique contributions can the discipline of philosophy make towards enhancing our understanding of what sustainability is and how sustainable goals can be accomplished?
5. What are the most important topics of future inquiry that sustainability theorists need to investigate?

They will each give presentations and then have the opportunity in a panel Saturday afternoon to sharpen their views and defend or modify them in light of the day's presentations.

To encourage scholarship in upstate New York, we will have commentators from the University of Rochester, Syracuse University, and Cornell University.

Co-sponsored and funded by the Provost, Jeremy Haefner
the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Robert Ulin
the Golisano Institute of Sustainability
Nabil Nasr, Director of the Center for Integrated Manufacturing Studies
Mary-Beth Cooper, Student Affairs
the Mellon Foundation, and
the Ezra A. Hale Chair in Applied Philosophy


These presentations are free
and open to all.

If you need interpreting services, contact Cassandra Shellman as early as you can at 585.475.2057 or via e-mail.

Presentations for previous years