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Our events are sponsored by the Philosophy and Religion Department, PPE Program, and CSSH

PPE/Ethics Institute Speaker, Krushil Watene

Krushil Watene, is an Associate Professor, her broad areas of research are moral and political philosophy. She’s interested in concepts like: equality, community, freedom, and rights. She is also interested in how we improve people’s lives (well-being) and how we make society and the world just (social and global justice). Much of her work is written from the perspective of the ‘capability approach’. As a theory of well-being, the capability approach tells us that we should be concerned with what people are able to do and be (our capabilities to function). We improve people’s lives by expanding their real opportunities to live the kinds of lives they value and have reason to value.


More information to come

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PPE/Ethics Institute Speaker, Michele Moody-Adams

Title: Does Democracy Have A Future?


Echoing Plato’s argument in Book VIII of The Republic, some thinkers contend that democracies have an unavoidable tendency to destroy themselves from within. Familiar Platonic concerns have been strengthened by the demise of print-journalism, the emergence of the “post-truth” era, the economic challenges of globalization and the digital economy, and the dangers of racist and xenophobic fear and resentment. But this talk will argue that even if democracy is on life support, the means of saving it from destruction are still within our grasp. We must be to reinvigorate democratic civic virtues such as collective compromise, civic sacrifice, horizontal trust, and allow mutual respect and compassionate concern to reshape our interactions in the “public square.”


Speaker Bio:

Michele Moody-Adams is currently Joseph Straus Professor of Political Philosophy and Legal Theory at Columbia University, where she served as Dean of Columbia College and Vice President for Undergraduate Education from 2009-2011. Before Columbia, she taught at Cornell University, where she was Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and Director of the Program on Ethics and Public Life. She has also taught at Wellesley College, the University of Rochester, and Indiana University, where she served as an Associate Dean.

Moody-Adams has published on equality and social justice, moral psychology and the virtues, and the philosophical implications of gender and race. She is also the author of a widely cited book on moral relativism, Fieldwork in Familiar Places: Morality, Culture and Philosophy (Harvard Press 1997). Her current work includes articles on academic freedom, equal educational opportunity, and democratic disagreement. Her next book, coming out in late 2021, is entitled Making Space for Justice: Social Movements, Collective Imagination and Political Hope (under contract with Columbia University Press). . She is also working on a project entitled Renewing Democracy and a book on the thought of Martin Luther King, Jr. Moody-Adams has a B.A. from Wellesley College, a second B.A. from Oxford University, and earned the M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy from Harvard University. She has been a British Marshall Scholar, an NEH Fellow, and is a lifetime Honorary Fellow of Somerville College, Oxford.


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PPE/Ethics Institute Speaker, Olufemi Taiwo

Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown University.

Title: The Case for Climate Reparations


Abstract: A partnered investigation between ProPublica and the New York Times has revealed the writing on the wall. We are at the beginnings of a “Great Climate Migration” that will transform the world. There are two ways forward: climate colonialism and apartheid or climate reparations. Climate apartheid describes the fact that we can expect a new kind of social division to arise within countries and communities: between those who can pay to avoid the worst impacts of climate change and those who cannot. Climate colonialism simply considers this same phenomenon on an international scale.


Reparations is a way forward through the climate crisis that doesn’t double down on these dismal precedents. A reparatory approach to climate migration would involve an overhaul of climate policy in both nation-states and multinational institutions. It would be broadly redistributive of wealth and power, both within and across countries. That redistribution would be historically informed: we would reject both the ‘rescue’ framing of state elites’ naked pursuit of self interest in refugee policy and the “voluntary repatriation” centered model that allows them to act on it with international authorization. Ultimately, we endorse the argument, developed and defended by legal scholar E. Tendayi Achiume, that corrective, distributive justice demands recognition of the entitlement of “Third World persons” to “a form of First World citizenship”.

However extreme this renegotiation of state sovereignty and citizenship may strike some readers, it’s nowhere near as extreme as the logical conclusion of the status quo’s violent alternative: mass famine, region-scale armed conflict. Compared to the horrors of climate apartheid and colonialism, having more neighbors is a small price to pay.

We suggest to read an article he wrote in Foreign Policy on this topic, The Case for Climate Reparations

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Democratic values such as those contained in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and human rights conventions are increasingly being sidelined, as print media and verbal communication shifts to digitized visual vocabularies and quantitative methods of prediction. In some cases, black letter law and established modes of address — and redress — have been displaced altogether by visual regimes (like surveillance camera networks and facial recognition software) or numeric narratives (including the algorithmic assessments of credit worthiness, medical predispositions, and probability of criminal recidivism).


These parallel universes operate according to their own logic, creating referential and connotative systems in which notions of truth, justice, and fairness are dangerously reconfigured. Such insidious technological and discursive shifts impose new and often impermeable categories of race, gender, and class that reinforce existing lines of segregation, while their decision-making power operates outside the traditional realm of accountability defined by jurisprudential notions of human agency. Our aim is to decipher the norms embedded in the syntax and semantics of justice as a system of governance, and to expose the hidden violence operating in these new genres of expression.


We invite participation, as well as short, informal presentations (max 10 minutes) by artists, lawyers, journalists, programmers, academics or other interested parties that make a contribution to understanding these new modes of seeing and being. Key questions we seek to address, by means of specific case studies, are:


1. What makes these technologies and platforms so “ungovernable,” and what are the consequences, and for whom?

2. How might our individual and combined disciplines and practices delineate an ethical stance or critical response?


To register your interest, and – if you would like to present – submit a 150 word description of your work/research, please click the button here. The deadline to submit your work to present is January 11, 2020.


Please note that while the deadline to submit presentations is January 11, registration will be open until January 19. Additional event information can be found here.

Information Ethics Roundtable Speaker, Kevin Zollman

Kevin J.S. Zollman is a professor of Philosophy and Social and Decision Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University.

“Conformity, Social networks, and the Emergence of Pluralistic Ignorance”

Abstract: Occasionally, people refuse to publicly state their beliefs because they think others disagree.  Others do in fact share their belief, but are also afraid to speak out for similar reasons. No one is speaking out and as a result, the false group belief persists; each member thinks they believe differently from one another.  This phenomena, known as pluralistic ignorance, is puzzling for many reasons.  In this talk, I will use a new computer simulation model for the emergence of pluralistic ignorance to discover under what situations we might expect it to arise. Ultimately, I conclude that pluralistic ignorance requires relatively special conditions to arise. In particular, I argue that pluralistic ignorance will only arise in conditions where individual’s beliefs are shifting for other reasons.

If you are interested in this virtual event, please register here:

About this Event

Join our speakers from around the world as they discuss the steps they’ve taken to protect their organizations, customers, and communities in the adoption and deployment of artificial intelligence.



  • AI Register for Cities and Public Sectors

Meeri Haatja | CEO & Co-Founder of Saidot

  • Principles to Practice: The Role of the Public Sector

Cristina Pombo Rivera | Inter-American Development Bank

  • Canada’s Efforts Towards Ethical AI

Natalie Cartwright | Co-Founder & Chief Operating Officer of Finn.AI

  • Indigenous Data Sovereignty in AI

Michael Running Wolf | Indigenous Software Developer in Industry

Moderated by: Krista Richmond, Director of Digital Innovation and Partnerships at Technical Safety BC


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About Cascad.AI:


The Cascadia Annual Summit on the Conscientious Adoption And Deployment Of Artificial Intelligence (Cascad.AI) is a community effort to create the next step in ethical AI adoption and deployment.

In 2020, the Cascad.AI Summit is a series of virtual conferences where attendees share what steps they have taken to safeguard their data, practices, and/or customers and engage with other like-minded organizations.

More events will be announced and published. Follow Northeastern University Vancouver on Eventbrite to be notified!

Information Ethics Roundtable Speaker, Rachel Sterken, Jessica Pepp, and Eliot Michaelson

Title: “On Retweeting”

Abstract: A small but growing literature in philosophy is devoted to the understanding of a seemingly new communicative action that came with the internet, and with Twitter in particular: the retweet. The spur for this literature is a kind of puzzle in public discourse: on the one hand, there is a tendency to hold people responsible for their retweets, and to blame them for retweeting material considered offensive or otherwise inappropriate. On the other hand, there is a widely shared, if not universally-recognized feeling that, as the well-known disclaimer has it, “A retweet is not an endorsement.” But if a retweet is not an endorsement, what is it? And what is wrong with retweeting offensive or misleading tweets? What sort of responsibility do people have for their retweets? Here, we put forward the view that bare, uncommented retweets are best understood along the lines of bare locutionary acts—figuring into various forms of illucution, but being more basic than any of those and, thereby, not directly the appropriate subject of norms. If this is right, the questions we then need to ask are: is this an acceptable way for things to be in the age of social media, in terms of its effects on our collective epistemic environment? If not, then (i) what should we want retweeting to be like and (ii) how can we plausibly nudge things in that direction?

This will be a “pre-read”, discussion-oriented meeting, with only a short introduction by the authors. Their manuscript will be circulated after registration. Participants are expected to pre-read the material.

If you are interested in this virtual event, please register here:

PPE Speaker/ Ethics Institute Speaker, Deva Woodly

PPE Speaker/ Ethics Institute Speaker, David Livingstone Smith