Hale Ethics Series, 2019-20

Sponsored by the Hale Chair in Applied Ethics


Wednesday, September 25th, 3-4:15, LOW-3215

Jake Wojtowicz (King's College London)

Agent-regret in our lives

Sometimes, through no fault of our own, we do something awful. For instance, while she is driving safely and attentively, a bike veers into a driver's path or a child darts out from behind a car and suddenly the driver has killed someone. Bernard Williams claimed that the appropriate emotional reaction to having done such a thing was not mere regret (because the driver regrets what she has done), nor guilt (because she wasn't at fault), but agent-regret. I put forward a novel account of agent-regret. I suggest that agent-regret can arise even when we are not at all concerned with the harm we have caused--what matters is our causing of it. To justify this, I draw attention to various reasons we might have for caring about what we have done. I then move on to show that a proper understanding of agent-regret helps us to better understand a variety of real-life and fictional cases where an agent faultlessly does something awful. Working from these cases, I consider why such actions matter by exploring the relation between what we do and who we are.


Wednesday, November 13th, 3:30-5:00, 01-2000

Daniel Susser (College of Information Sciences and Technology, Pennsylvania State University)

Online Manipulation

Privacy and surveillance scholars increasingly worry that data collectors can use the information they gather about our behaviors, preferences, interests, incomes, and so on to manipulate us. Yet what it means, exactly, to manipulate someone, and how we might systematically distinguish cases of manipulation from other forms of influence—such as persuasion and coercion—has not been thoroughly enough explored in light of the unprecedented capacities that information technologies and digital media enable. In this paper, we develop a definition of manipulation that addresses these enhanced capacities, investigate how information technologies facilitate manipulative practices, and describe the harms—to individuals and to social institutions—that flow from such practices. We argue that at its core, manipulation is hidden influence—the covert subversion of another person’s decision-making power. We argue that information technology, for a number of reasons, makes engaging in manipulative practices significantly easier, and it makes the effects of such practices potentially more deeply debilitating. And we argue that by subverting another person’s decision-making power, manipulation undermines his or her autonomy. Given that respect for individual autonomy is a bedrock principle of liberal democracy, the threat of online manipulation is a cause for grave concern.



Thursday, March 19th, TBA

Dr. Ronald Sandler (Director, Ethics Institute, Northeastern University)

Title: TBA

:Dr. Sandler will speak on how environmental values influence the development of government policies regulating GMOs and species conservation. The subject of his lecture will be of interest to students and faculty members not only in the Philosophy department but also in Public Policy, STS, economics, and in programs outside of CLA, including CHST, Environmental Science, and the Sustainability Institute.


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