Hale Ethics Series, 2014-15

Sponsored by the Hale Chair in Applied Ethics


Thursday, September 11th, 3:30-5, Carlson Auditorium (76-1125)

Ethics Across the Curriculum

Wade Robison (Philosophy, RIT)

The aim of ethics across the curriulum is to integrate ethics into existing curricula. Ethical considerations are internal to disciplines, and the aim of ethics across the curriculum is to make explicit the implicit ethical considerations that mark all disciplines. It is a presumption, and may be thought presumptuous, to claim that all disciplines at least implicitly embody ethical considerations, but it is a presumption that finds fruit when we examine engineering, for example, or history, or political science, or photography. Professor Robison will provide a general overview of the sorts of ethical considerations we find in all disciplines along with some examples he thinks telling for how ethical considerations enter into some disciplines that may be thought bare of such considerations.

Thursday, September 18th, 3:30-5, Carlson Auditorium (76-1125)

From Marx to Kant: Alienation and the 'Problem' of Justice

Lucy Ward (Philosophy, University of Melbourne)

This paper analyses Kant’s political and anthropological writings in relation to Marx’s early discussions of alienation. It is argued that Kant’s discussion of what he terms “passions” and “mania” provides a crucial framework shedding light on the normative and moral dimensions to Marx’s thesis concerning alienation. Kant describes Süchte or “hungers” (i.e. the desire for possession, for power, and for fame) as quantitative needs, ones that vacate and empty, rather than qualitatively fill, the human personality oriented towards them. The purpose of this analysis is to make a case for the continuing significance of the ‘problem’ of alienation–both as it is developed in the works of contemporary thinkers Jürgen Habermas and Agnes Heller–and as applied to theories of radical democracy and justice more broadly.

Thursday, October 16th, 3:30-5, Carlson Auditorium (76-1125)

Hume's Moral Theory

Geoff Sayre-McCord (Morehead-Cain Alumni Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, University of North Carolina)

David Hume developed an extraordinarily powerful theory of morality, a theory designed both to explain and to justify fundamental principles of ethics. This lecture will offer a general overview of Hume’s theory with the aim of conveying why it has (properly) been so influential.



Wednesday, February 25th, 3:30-5, Liberal Arts, A205

Aristotle's Ethics

Kathleen Harbin (Philosophy, SUNY-Brockport)

This lecture presents a general overview of Aristotle's ethical theory.

Thursday, March 12th, 3:30-5, Bamboo Room, Alumni-Student Union

A Model for Theories of Distributive Justice

Theodore Everett (Philosophy, SUNY Geneseo)

This paper presents a simple mathematical model for theories of distributive justice. It reduces many complex considerations to a single question: imagining a distribution system that imposes a flat-rate income tax on earnings solely in order to provide a guaranteed minimum income to every citizen, which available pair of tax rate and guaranteed income is most just? Model versions of the four main current theories of distributive justice: libertarianism, egalitarianism, utilitarianism, and Rawlsian, can be represented as distribugrams, and these four graphically define the range of possbility for stable systems of distribution. Intermediate model systems can be seen as balancing the moral forces of liberty, equality, utility, and compassion for the least well-off which separately motivate the four main theories. Viewing the range of theories of distributive justice in this simple framework sheds light on political arguments over Western welfare systems, and may suggest reforms.

Thursday, March 26th, 3:30-5, 1-2000

Sketch and Defense of a Divergentist Moral Realism

Jon Tresan (Philosophy, University of Rochester)

This paper I sketch a novel version and defense of objective moral realism. Objective moral realists posit an independent moral reality. In principle they could say that they alone, or some sect or cultural tradition (like Western Civilization), are aware of that reality. But in practice they assume that moralizing – thinking, talking, and caring about morality – is panhuman (robustly cross-cultural). This has a significant implication, especially for those realists who (like me) are naturalists. For it commits them to properties (e.g., moral wrongness) which are (i) natural, (ii) instantiated, (iii) extensionally thus-and-so (e.g., had by brutality, betrayal, neglect, hogging, shirking, etc.), and (iv) the object of panhuman moralizing (e.g., of non-ulterior con-attitudes like indignation and shame, and of judgments used to display, guide, and mobilize those attitudes). Call the posit of such properties “convergentism”. Convergentism is wholly empirical, and problematically so. This paper describes and defends a version of “divergentist” realism: descriptive relativist, convergence-maker-avoiding, and thus non-convergentist. The core idea is that moral judgments and properties are in important ways like those involving units of length (e.g., inches, feet, meters, and judgments about them). The properties (e.g., being an inch) are objectively real natural properties and the judgments ascribe (just) those properties (saying "it's an inch" is just saying that it's an inch).

Thursday, April 9th, 3:30-5, 1-1300


Golfo Maggini (Philosoophy, University of Ioannina/Greece)

Thursday, April 30th, 3:30-5, 1-2000


Michael Brown (History, RIT)

Friday, May 8th, 3:30-5, Louise Slaughter, Rooms 2240 and 2230

Trust, Accountability, and Online Anonymity

Karen Frost-Arnold (Philosophy, Hobart & William Smith Colleges)

Wikipedia vandalism, Twitter pranks, and hoax blogs are now familiar features of our online lives. A common response to these perceived abuses maintains that mechanisms of accountability are necessary to ensure the epistemic value of internet communities. Some advocate for removing anonymity from online communication. Others demand more investigations into the real-world identities behind online personas. In this talk, I discuss some of the commonly overlooked pitfalls of such online accountability. I show that accountability mechanisms can damage communities’ ability to both disseminate true beliefs and weed out errors.



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