Hale Ethics Series, 2017-18

Sponsored by the Hale Chair in Applied Ethics



Thursday, September 21st, 4-5:30, 1-2000

Benjamin Banta (Political Science, RIT)

"‘The Sort of War They Deserve’?: Interwar Air Power Ethics and the Debate over Lethal Uninhabited Aerial Vehicles"

Grounded in a desire for the ethics of war to have some practical effect, ethicists are beset by a dual anxiety: too restrictive and no one with power will listen; too permissive and the powerful gain destructive moral cover. One of the primary challenges of this ethic-building-to-practical effect is the way new military technologies change the character of war by empowering agents in new ways. Indeed, there is at present an ever-growing literature that seeks to apply, defend and / or update the ethics of war in light of what is often argued to be an unprecedented period of rapid advance in military technology. To add to our confidence in whether our ethical approach to one particularly important new military technology, lethal Uninhabited Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), will find success in effectively and appropriately constraining war, this article examines the somewhat analogous historical case of the ethical debate over the rise of air power during the interwar period. That historical case presents a real failure to ethically constrain war in the face of a potentially revolutionary new weapon. By highlighting the interrelated processes of technological change, ethical debate, and the eventual reconciliation of war practice and war ethics, key elements of this failure are leveraged to offer theoretical advice that might help ethicists maintain their “critical edge” as lethal UAVs continue to mature and proliferate.

Thursday, October 19th, 4-5:30, Bamboo Room, Student Alumni Union

Irina Mikhalevich (Philosophy, RIT)

"Minds Without Spines: Towards a More Comprehensive Animal Ethics"

Invertebrate animals comprise roughly 95% of all animal species and over 99.99% of all extant animals, yet they have been largely ignored within philosophical accounts of animal rights and animal welfare. To the extent that ‘invertebrates’ are discussed in the animal ethics literature, they are typically lumped into a single undifferentiated category despite their remarkable diversity, and subsequently excluded from subject-centered moral consideration and experimental welfare protections (with a recent exception for octopuses). Recent developments in comparative cognition research, however, suggest the presence of sophisticated cognitive abilities in many invertebrates, and comparative neurobiology is beginning to reveal how the ‘alien’ brains of these animals can give rise to cognition and, perhaps, consciousness. At the same time, conceptual and methodological problems in animal cognition science result in significant uncertainties about the presence of complex cognition in animals generally and invertebrates in particular, and it is unclear how these scientific uncertainties should affect our ethical analyses. The present talk lays the foundation for a more comprehensive, inclusive and scientifically engaged animal ethics – one that responds both to the novel scientific evidence and to the philosophical challenges that confront the study of the animal mind. 

Thursday, November 16th, 4-5:30, 1-2000

Thomas Beauchamp (Philosophy, Georgetown)

"Moral Problems in the Quest for Human-nonhuman Chimeras with Human Organs"

This paper is on the ethics of uses of human stem cells to create human-nonhuman chimeras with human organs. It may smack of science fiction, but it isn't. It's happening and is a real problem in both Japan (which has banned it) and the NIH (which is trying to decide whether to lift its ban).  My analysis is oriented to some questions NIH is probing (probably not very well) about the ethics of the research and about animal welfare. I deal with some interesting questions in ethical theory about moral status, person theory, and the like. 

Co-sponsored by the College of Science.








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