Hale Ethics Series, 2015-16

Sponsored by the Hale Chair in Applied Ethics


Thursday, September 10th, 3:30-5, Reading room, Union

Why We Have No Right to Not Be Killed

David Suits (Philosophy, RIT)

I will present two versions of an argument that no one has a moral right to not be killed. Both versions are based on the claim of the philosopher Epicurus (341–270 BCE) that death is annihilation yet not something bad that ought to be avoided (nor is it a good thing that ought to be sought). And both versions make use of the fact that death is a special case where ethical matters are significantly different from non-death cases. But at the end, I will explain how killing a person can be an immoral act even though no one has a right to not be killed.

Thursday, September 24th, 3:30-5, Bamboo Room (03-2650)

Justifying Copyrights and Patents: A Utility/Desert Hybrid Account

Colin Mathers (Philosophy, RIT)

Of the three basic moral concepts that can be used to defend the legitimacy of copyrights and patents – entitlement, desert, and utility – the most effective, when used alone, is utility. In fact, the justification in our Constitution - “to promote the progress of science and the useful arts” – is clearly utilitarian. Using colorful examples from the history of popular music and science, I will explain the inadequacy of using entitlement, desert or utility alone to defend the legitimacy of copyrights and patents. Treating copyrights and patents as rewards and exploiting parallels between punishments and rewards, I propose and defend a hybrid view employing utility and desert.

Thursday, October 22nd, 4-5:30, 76-1125

Climate Ethics and Fossil Fuel Divestment

Lawrence Torcello (Philosophy, RIT)

Can shareholders avoid moral complicity in the wrongs committed by corporations they have a financial stake in? Next month world leaders will gather in Paris for the 21st United Nations Conference on Climate Change. The goal of the conference is to achieve international cooperation in limiting global warming to just 2 degrees Celsius (3.6F) above preindustrial levels, the target thought “safe” if we are to have a chance at avoiding catastrophic climate change on a global scale. In order to meet this goal at least two thirds of the world’s known fossil fuel supply must remain unburned. Meanwhile, aware of this situation, fossil fuel companies continue to explore for ever more oil and gas reserves, including those newly available in the Arctic because of climate change. Given these realities, do universities have a moral responsibility to their students to divest from fossil fuels?



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

Communal Motivational Internalism is the Real Deal: a Defense

Jon Tresan (Philosophy, University of Rochester)

Motivational internalists say, roughly, that there’s no moral thinking without moral caring. For example, an internalist might say that one cannot genuinely think that one ought to do something without being motivated to do it. If true, internalism seems to reveal something profoundly interesting about the nature of moral thinking. However, most philosophers now reject it as false because of apparent counterexamples: people who seem to have moral views but be totally unmoved by them (e.g., some psychopaths). This paper defends a fall-back position, which concedes that individuals can indeed be totally unmoved by their moral thoughts, but insists that their moral thinking is necessarily parasitic on the moral thinking of those who are moved. I defend two claims about this fall-back position. First, it is far more plausible than standard versions of internalism. Second, what it reveals about the nature of moral thinking is just as profoundly interesting as what those standard versions would reveal if they were true.

Thursday, March 10th, 4-5:30, 01-2000

Lovers' Knowledge: Sexuality as Practical Freedom

Adam Rosen-Carole (Philosophy, RIT)

Today, sex is increasingly distinct from the historically interconnected ends of procreation and institutionalized sexual domination. And sexual love has an unprecedented normative authority – an increasingly central and broad role to play in accounting for developments in social practices. Sexual love is an increasingly compelling reason to limit institutional forms of sexual domination, placing a demand on institutional acknowledgement as a value around which a way of life might be structured. Love may yet be a fundamental way we structure our social world. Seeing how this might be requires coming to see sex as a form of mutual acknowledgment, as a fundamental shape or practice of freedom. What lovers know, minimally, is that natural appetite or inclination, reproduction, and sexual domination have lost their longstanding cultural authority, that these are not reasons adequate to their practices. As lovers, we know ourselves to be free and work out the practical meaning of our freedom.

Thursday, March 31st, 4-5:30, 01-2000

The Importance of the Philosopher’s Beard

Ryan Johnson (Philosophy, Elon College)

In Ancient Rome, how a philosopher lived his or her life was often considered to be more important thanwhat a philosopher said or wrote. Back then, a philosopher was not someone who wrote books or papers that were disconnected from the conduct of a life. Rather, a philosopher embodied a form of life that expressed certain goals, values, motivations, and perspectives. One was identified as a Stoic, for example, because he or she lived a Stoic life. The philosophical scene of ancient Rome was thus characterized by a vibrant community of various ways of living, e.g., as a Stoic, as an Epicurean, as a Skeptic, etc. This talk will attempt to breathe new life into that ancient practice of philosophy and thereby allow us to re-conceive and re-evaluate the contemporary philosophical scene.

Thursday, May 12th, 4-5:30, 01-2000

"I'm very concerned regarding the privacy of my users:" Influences on Privacy as a Professional Practice in Mobile Application Development

Katie Shilton (College of Information Studies, University of Maryland)

Privacy is a critical challenge for mobile application development. Mobile applications are easy to build and distribute, and can collect diverse personal data. US policy approaches to data protection in the mobile ecosystem rely on privacy by design: approaches that encourage developers to proactively implement best-practice privacy features to protect sensitive data. But we don’t know what factors motivate developers to implement privacy features when faced with disincentives such as longer development timelines, markets for personal data, and tensions between data protection and data-enabled services. This project begins to identify these factors by investigating how mobile developers talk about and deal with privacy challenges. Interviews with developers and analysis of posts on developer forums reveal that developers are actively grappling with privacy issues. This talk will describe how developers define and legitimate privacy, and describe how knowledge of how to approach privacy problems is disseminated. Understanding the development of privacy as a professional practice can help us shape better guidelines for privacy by design, and broach challenges to the widespread adoption of privacy by design principles.



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