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Sponsored by the Philosophy and Religion Department, the PPE Program, and the Ethics Institute, our Speaker Series are collaborative and generative events.

PPE Speaker Series

PPE Speaker, Neema Avashia


Time: Starts at 4 pm

Location: RP 909

Title: Amplifying “Anotherness”: Disrupting Dominant Narratives About Appalachia

Abstract: Appalachia is frequently represented as a monolith in mainstream media representations of place and people. But for the folks who live in this region, we know that it is far from monolithic. That it is home to immigrants, to queer people, to Hindus and Buddhists and Muslims and Jews, to people who are politically radical, to every identity not included in a dominant narrative that casts our homes as White, Christian, straight, and conservative. This dominant narrative has been used to vilify Appalachian people, to dehumanize them, and ultimately, to extract the resources from the regions without any accountability for that extraction. So what happens when we challenge that dominant narrative? When we write and publish and amplify narratives that complicate understanding of place and people? How can this effort be used to build solidarity between our communities and those in other parts of the country, and to resist the polarization and dehumanization that characterize a lot of the political discourse in this moment?

About the Speaker: Neema Avashia is the daughter of Indian immigrants, and was born and raised in southern West Virginia. She has been an educator and activist in the Boston Public Schools since 2003, and was named a City of Boston Educator of the Year in 2013. Her first book, Another Appalachia: Coming Up Queer and Indian in a Mountain Place, was published by West Virginia University Press in March 2022. It has been called “A timely collection that begins to fill the gap in literature focused mainly on the white male experience” by Ms. Magazine, and “A graceful exploration of identity, community, and contradictions,” by Scalawag. The book was named Best LGBTQ Memoir of 2022 by BookRiot, was one of the New York Public Library’s Best Books of 2022, and was a finalist for the New England Book Award, the Weatherford Award, and a Lambda Literary Award. She lives in Boston with her partner, Laura, and her daughter, Kahani.

Ethics Institute Speaker Series

Ethics Institute Speaker, Marta Giunta Martino


Time: Starts at 12pm

Location: Renaissance Park 4th Floor Common Room

Title: “Dissenting from Within: A Taxonomy of Resistance in Public Institutions.”

Abstract: TBA

About the Speaker: Marta Giunta Martino is a PhD candidate in Political Science at the University of Geneva.

Ethics Institute Speaker, Rachell Powell


Time: 11:45am-1:15pm

Location: Cargill 097

Title: TBA

Abstract: TBA

Ethics Institute Speaker, Lisa McLeod


Time: Starts at 12pm

Location: Renaissance Park 4th floor common room

Title: TBA

Abstract: TBA

About the Speaker: Lisa McLeod is a part-time lecturer for the Department of Philosophy and Religion at Northeastern University.

Ethics Institute Speaker, Brian Chambliss


Time: Starts at 12pm

Location:Renaissance Park 4th floor common room

Title: TBA

Abstract: TBA

About the Speaker: Brian Chambliss is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Susquehanna University.

Past Speakers

Ethics Institute Speaker, Amelia Hicks


Time: 11:45am-1:15pm

Location: Cargill 097

Title: Philosophizing about Autism in Public

Abstract: 

I have three goals for this talk, all of which are related to a public philosophy project I’ve been working on for the past two years: a podcast called NeuroDiving. NeuroDiving is a philosophy podcast about neurodivergence, produced by me and Joanna Lawson (also a neurodivergent philosopher). At the beginning of the talk, I’ll catch you up on what we’ve done so far, and describe our goals for the future.

Second, I’d like to share what I’ve learned about the current state of “philosophy of autism.” The bad news is that a great deal of philosophy of autism is dehumanizing, empirically suspect, and boring. The good news is that a few philosophers—almost all neurodivergent themselves—are developing more interesting research programs related to autism and neurodivergence. And yet another piece of good news is that autism and neurodivergence are philosophically fascinating. There are many potentially fruitful philosophical research programs in this area, and I’ll step you through a few of them.

And third, I’d like to share what I’ve learned so far about communicating publicly about autism and neurodivergence. Perhaps unsurprisingly, standard pieces of journalistic advice often backfire when it comes to autism and neurodivergence (and disability more broadly). So, what are some better pieces of journalistic advice? And can we expect journalists (and other public communicators) to follow those better pieces of advice within the incentive structures of contemporary media?

About the Speaker: Amelia Hicks is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Kansas State University.

PPE Speaker, Tommie Shelby


Time: Starts at 4:30pm

Location: Churchill Hall 103

Title: “How Racial Stereotypes Wrong: A Political Ethics of Belief”

Abstract: As racial stereotypes are beliefs about contingent matters of fact (namely, the traits and tendencies of different “racial” groups), it is puzzling how they could be proper objects of moral condemnation, resentment, and blame. Beliefs are not actions. They cannot be formed at will. And their assessment is usually taken to be a matter of their truth or falsity, not their moral permissibility or wrongfulness. This lecture attempts to specify where the moral problems with racial stereotypes lie. It does so, in part, by arguing that there is an underappreciated political ethics that should guide belief formation and intergroup relations in societies that have been deeply shaped by racial injustice. Along the way, stereotypes are distinguished from similar and related phenomena, including group prejudice and implicit bias. Epistemic errors are distinguished from moral wrongs and vices, and it is explained how both types of faults are related and combined in stereotypes.

About the Speaker: Tommie Shelby, Professor of African and African American Studies and of Philosophy at Harvard University

Ethics Institute Speaker, Patricia Williams


Time: 12-1:15pm

Location: Cargill 097

Title: TBA

Abstract: TBA

Ethics Institute Speaker, Bo Kim-Kopec


Time: 12-1:15pm

Location: Behrakis Building-310

Title: TBA

Abstract: TBA

Ethics Institute Speaker, Professor Chad Lee-Stronach


Time: 12pm-1:30pm

Location: Renaissance Park 4th Floor Common Room

Title: “Reproving Utilitarianism”

Abstract: 

Utilitarianism is sometimes said to not only be true but to be provably so by a plausible interpretation of Harsanyi’s (1955) social aggregation theorem. It seems that to reject Utilitarianism, its opponents must, on pain of contradiction, reject one of the theorem’s premises. Prof. Chad Lee-Stronach argues that opponents of Utilitarianism need not reject anything; they may instead subsume Harsanyi’s theorem within a more general moral theory.

Ethics Institute Speaker, Saira Khan


Time: 5:30pm- 6:30pm

Location: Snell Engineering 108

Title: “Rational Preference in Transformative Experiences”

Abstract: 

L. A. Paul’s Transformative Experience makes the claim that many important life decisions are epistemically and personally transformative in a way that does not allow us to assign subjective values to their outcomes. As a result, we cannot use normative decision theory to make such decisions rationally, or when we modify it to do so, decision theory leads us to choose in a way that is in tension with our authenticity. This talk examines Paul’s version of decision theory, and whether this version in fact admits of the challenge she wants to raise. Saira argues that Paul fails to engage critically with traditional accounts of decision theory and, on closer inspection, it is not clear that her version of decision theory entails a tension between rational and authentic choice. Furthermore, the definition she provides of authenticity in fact undermines her argument.

Speaker: Saira Khan, Ph.D. Center for the philosophy of Science  at University of Pittsburgh

PPE Speaker, Chris Zurn


Time: Starts at 4:45pm

Location: Hurtig 224

Title: “Splitsville USA”

Abstract: 

Christopher will be talking about his most recent book Splitsville USA. The book argues that, in order to save representative democracy, we need to split up the United States into several new nations, through a mutually negotiated peaceful dissolution. Christopher claims that the roots of the dangers to basic electoral democracy in the current United States are structural, based in our basic political and constitutional institutions. And he argues that the only realistic and effective way to fix those is to dissolve the current US into several new nation states.

Ethics Institute Speaker, Kaja Jenssen Rathe


Time: 12pm-1:30pm

Location: Philosophy and Religion Common Area, Renaissance Park 4th floor

Title: “Reflections on Critical Phenomenology: The Question of Method and Implications for Political Philosophy”

Abstract:

In this talk, Kaja will interrogate the promise of critical phenomenology for political philosophy. Introducing critical phenomenology with special focus on the ongoing debate about its method and scope, Kaja will draw on Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Lisa Guenther and my own research on “immigrant indebtedness” to make the case that critical phenomenology can offer a fruitful point of dialogue with political philosophy at large.

Speaker: Kaja Jenssen Rathe Arctic University of Norway

Ethics Institute Speaker, César Cabezas


Time: 12pm-1:30pm

Location: Philosophy and Religion Common Area, Renaissance Park 4th floor

Title: “Is Anti-Racism Moralistic?”

Abstract: 

According to their critics, anti-racists are moralists who are quick to label those who do not meet their exacting moral standards on matters of race as “racists” who deserve to be shamed and shunned. César argues that the moralism challenge rests on a misunderstanding of the anti-racist conception of racism. César shows that there is a long tradition of anti-racist theory and practice that uses the term “racism” mainly to explain the workings of systemic racial oppression, rather than to morally condemn individuals.

Speaker: César Cabezas of Temple University

PPE Speaker, Kenan Malik


Time: 10:30am-12pm

Location: Renaissance Park 909 Conference Room

Title: “Not so Black and White: A History of Race from White Supremacy to Identity Politics”

Abstract: 

Kenan Malik (London-based writer, lecturer, broadcaster) will be discussing his new book “Not so Black and White: A History of Race from White Supremacy to Identity Politics.”

PPE Speaker, Sigal Ben-Porath


Time: Starts at 11:45am

Location: Renaissance Park 909 Conference Room

Title: “Should colleges permit hateful speech?”

Abstract: 

Should colleges permit hateful speech? In this talk Sigal Ben-Porath will draw some boundaries for campus speech and argue that they are distinct from the boundaries we draw in democracy more broadly. Sigal will consider the commitment to values such as safety, equality, true knowledge, and dignity as limiting factors for protected campus speech. Sigal Will consider some counter arguments and hope to hear additional counterarguments during the discussion.

Ethics Institute Speaker, Iris Berent


Time: 12pm-1:30pm

Location: Philosphy and Religion Common Area, Renaissance Park 4th Floor

Title: “Can We Get Human Nature Right?”

Abstract:

Few questions in science are as controversial as human nature. At stake is whether our basic concepts and emotions are all learned from experience, or whether some are innate. Here, Berent demonstrate that reasoning about innateness is biased by the basic workings of the human mind.
Psychological science suggests that newborns possess core concepts of “object” and “number”. Laypeople, however, believe that newborns are devoid of such notions, but that they can innately recognize emotions. Moreover, people presume that concepts are learned, whereas emotions (along with sensations and actions) are innate.
Berent traces these beliefs to two tacit psychological principles: intuitive Dualism and Essentialism. Essentialism guides tacit reasoning about biological inheritance and suggests that innate traits reside in the body; per intuitive Dualism, however, the mind seems ethereal, distinct from the body. It thus follows that, in our intuitive psychology, concepts (which people falsely consider as disembodied) must be learned, whereas emotions, sensations and emotions (which are considered embodied) are likely innate; these predictions are in line with the experimental results.
In this talk, Berent demonstrates how these intuitive biases taint our understanding of human nature, derail science, and quite possibly, give rise to the “hard problem” of consciousness.

Speaker: Iris Berent of Northeastern University

Ethics Institute Speaker, Elettra Bietti


Time: 12pm-1:30pm

Location: Philosphy and Religion Common Area, Renaissance Park 4th Floor

Title: “Rawls and Anti trust’s Justice Function”

Abstract:

Antitrust law is more contested than ever. The recent push by the Biden Administration to re-orient antitrust towards justice and fairness considerations is leading to public backlash, judicial resistance and piecemeal doctrinal developments. The methodological hegemony of welfare maximizing moves in antitrust makes it theoretically fragile and maladaptive to change. To bridge disagreements and overcome polarization, this talk revisits John Rawls’ foundational work on political and economic justice, arguing that it can facilitate consensus and inform the present and future of antitrust law.

Speaker: Elettra Bietti of Northeastern University

PPE Speaker, Manon Garcia


Time: 10:30am-12pm

Location: Renaissance Park 909 Conference Room

Title: “The Joy of consent: A Philosophy of Good Sex”

Abstract: 

On Friday, September 29th, Manon Garcia will be coming to discuss her book “the Joy of Consent: A Philosophy of Good Sex.”

Ethics Institute Speaker, Don Fallis


Time: 12:00pm-1:30pm, December 2, 2022

Location: Department Conference Room (428 Renaissance Park)

Title: TBA
Abstract: TBA

Speaker Bio: Don Fallis is a Professor of Philosophy and Computer Science at Northeastern University. His research interests include epistemology, philosophy of information, and philosophy of mathematics. His articles on lying and deception have appeared in the Journal of Philosophy, Philosophical Studies, and the Australasian Journal of Philosophy. He has also discussed lying on Philosophy TV and in several volumes of the Philosophy and Popular Culture series.

Ethics Institute Speaker, Michael Hannon


Time: 12:00pm-1:30pm, November 18, 2022

Location: Department Conference Room (428 Renaissance Park)

Title: TBA
Abstract: TBA

Speaker Bio: Michael Hannon is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Nottingham and Honorary Director of the Aristotelian Society. From 2022-23, he is an Edmond J. Safra Fellow-in-Residence at Harvard.

Hannon works in epistemology and political philosophy. He has published on topics such as: the role of truth in politics, political empathy, identity-expressive discourse, skepticism, fallibilism, and the value of knowledge. In 2019, Oxford University Press published his first book, What’s the Point of Knowledge?

Ethics Institute Speaker, Robert Hughes


Time: 12:00pm-1:30pm, November 4, 2022

Location: Department Conference Room (428 Renaissance Park)

Title: TBA
Abstract: TBA
Speaker Bio: Robert Hughes is Assistant Professor of Legal Studies & Business Ethics at the University of Pennsylvania. Hughes’ areas of specialization include applied ethics, philosophy of law, and political philosophy. His work in legal philosophy focuses on the possibility of laws that lack coercive enforcement and the ethical obligation to obey unenforced and under-enforced laws (including the obligation to obey such laws in business contexts). His work in applied ethics focuses on ethical constraints on fair transactions. He has also worked on democratic theory and on issues of justice in medical care and research.

Ethics Institute Speaker, Kay Mathiesen 


Time: 12:00pm-1:30pm, September 23, 2022

Location: Department Conference Room (428 Renaissance Park)

Title: TBA
Abstract: TBA

Speaker Bio: Kay Mathiesen is an Associate Professor of Philosophy with a research focus on information and computer ethics and justice. She received her Ph.D. in Philosophy from University of California, Irvine. She uses her expertise in social epistemology, ethics, social philosophy, and political philosophy to analyze ethical issues related to persons and communities as seekers, sources, and subjects of knowledge and information. She has written a number of papers on human rights and democracy as they relate to information access and control.She is currently working on a book project titled Informational Justice. This project seeks to answer such questions as: Do we have a right to know? If so, what? And what duties does that right place on ourselves, other citizens, and governments? Is freedom of expression sufficient to allow for full participation of marginalized groups in the public infosphere? If not, how can we foster greater inclusion?

Ethics Institute Speaker, Deborah Hellman


Time: 12:00pm-1:30pm, October 7, 2022

Location: Department Conference Room (428 Renaissance Park)

Title: TBA
Abstract: TBA
Speaker Bio: Deborah Hellman is Professor of Law, Civil Liberties, and Human Rights at the University of Virginia School of Law. She is the director of UVA Law’s Center for Law & Philosophy. There are two main strands to Hellman’s work. The first focus is on equal protection law and its philosophical justification. She is the author of When Is Discrimination Wrong? (Harvard University Press, 2008) and co-editor of The Philosophical Foundations of Discrimination Law (Oxford University Press, 2013) and several articles related to equal protection. The second strand focuses on the relationship between money and legal rights. This includes articles on campaign finance law, bribery and corruption, each of which explore and challenge the normative foundations of current doctrine. Her article “A Theory of Bribery” won the 2019 Fred Berger Memorial Prize (for philosophy of law) from the American Philosophical Association. In 2020 she won the Association of American Law Schools Section on Jurisprudence Article Award for “Measuring Algorithmic Fairness,” which was published in the Virginia Law Review.

Ethics Institute Speaker, David Friedell


Time: 12:00pm-1:30pm, September 23, 2022

Location: Department Conference Room (428 Renaissance Park)

Title: TBA
Abstract: TBA
Speaker Bio: David Friedell is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Union College.
Friedell’s research is in Metaphysics, Aesthetics, and Philosophy of Language. Most of his research has focused on abstract artifacts. These are immaterial human creations: for example, novels, symphonies, corporations, languages, words, and fictional characters. Some of his papers have appeared in Analysis, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Philosophical Studies, and Ratio. He is currently writing about music, linguistic agency, the meaning of artworks, and personal beauty. Before coming to Union College, he taught at the University of British Columbia, Barnard College of Columbia University, and the University of the West Indies.

PPE Speaker, Margaret Burnham


Time: 10:00am-11:30am, September 20, 2022

Location: Curry Student Center, Senate Chambers

Title: TBA
Abstract: TBA

Speaker: Espen Stabell

Time: 3:30pm-5:00pm

Location: Renaissance Park 426 (Department Common Room)

Title: Moral uncertainty: the two-level view

Abstract: It has been argued that under uncertainty about which first-order moral theory or view is correct, decision-makers should employ a distinct, ‘second-level’ theory for decision-making under moral uncertainty. I call this the two-level view of decision-making under moral uncertainty. In the paper, I discuss a version of the two-level view which says that decision theory should be employed on the second level: if you are uncertain between two (or more) theories, you should ‘hedge your bets’: you should decide based on your preferences and beliefs (credences) with regard to the theories in question. I point out a worry regarding this view: that it can lead to a kind of ‘moral laziness’, where decision-makers avoid work on the first-level and move too quickly to the second level. I connect this worry to a more general issue: how the work on the first level might affect the legitimacy and strength of the ‘second-level oughts’ of moral uncertainty. This, I argue, must be clarified in order to put something like the two-level view to work in our actual decision making.

Speaker: Daniela Gandorfer

Time: 3:30pm-5:00pm

Location: 426 Renaissance Park

Title: “Down and Dirty in the Field of Play: Startup Societies, Cryptostatecraft, and Critical Complicity”
Abstract: Phenomena such as human-induced climate change, global rise of authoritarian regimes, mistrust in democratic structures, and the potential of new digital technologies for producing novel modes of governance are  inducing fundamental shifts in the conditions of existence on earth. Furthermore, they are also constituting normative indeterminacies which are providing a fertile ground for political experiments in organizing, governing, and imagining societies differently. This talk focuses on a particular mode of governance, namely competitive crypto-governance, outlines the implications of its underlying imaginaries, and suggests collaborative approaches towards an alternative understanding of law and governance in the 21st century.
Speaker Bio: Daniela is trained in legal theory, science and technology studies, media studies, as well as process philosophy. Her research focuses on scientific and technological frontier spaces — such as quantum physics, digital and crypto-technologies, and psychadelics — and their implications for emerging forms of normativity and governance. Special interest lies on the possibilities for an ethics of sensing and sense-making (synaesethics) attentive to these phenomena.
She is the recipient of the 2021 ASciNA Young Scientist Award, and has co-edited the Research Handbook in Law and Literature (Edward Elgar Publishing, with Peter Goodrich and Cecilia Gebruers) as well as the Theory & Event special issue “Matterphorical” (Johns Hopkins Press, with Zulaikha Ayub). Her book Matterphorics: On the Laws of Theory is forthcoming with Duke University Press.

PPE Speaker, Alex Gourevitch


Time: 10:00am-11:30am

Location: 909 Renaissance Park

Title: On Necessary Labor: Why a UBI can’t be a path to a post-work future
Abstract: It was once standard to understand socialism as a regime of freedom because it was based on shared labor. The contemporary Left is captured by an alternative ‘post-work’ vision, in which emancipation is equated with being freed not just from work but from a work-based society itself. Policies like a ‘Universal Basic Income’ are now supposed to ground a emancipatory vision of a society in which nobody is forced to work. Promoting a UBI is supposed to re-ignite left-wing politics by guiding the political imagination towards the attractions of a post-work utopia. Unfortunately, this vision is grounded in a series of deceptions about why some labor is necessary. These deceptions are both an intellectual and political liability. Intellectually, the deceptions leave the Left without the ability to properly describe, let alone theorize, the problems that any serious socialist project has to face. The core question is about how to define, organize and distribute necessary labor in a way consistent with human freedom. Politically, Left proponents of a UBI are left unable to see what is utterly reasonable, even valuable, about popular attachments to work. They end up representing socialist views about work and freedom as far more marginal and at odds with widespread views than they need or ought to be. In many ways, the public tacitly understands, better than UBI proponents, the need for some formal organization of necessary labor.
Speaker Bio: Alex Gourevitch is an associate professor of political science in the Department of Political Science. He received his Ph.D in political science from Columbia University in 2010. Gourevitch’s research interests include the history of political and economic thought; theories of freedom; work and leisure; Marxism; rights theory; republicanism; and democratic theory.

Speaker: Justin Bruner 

Time: 3:30pm-5:00pm

Location: Renaissance Park 426 (Department Common Room)

Title: Risk, rules and agreement

Abstract: What does it mean to divide fairly? One approach popular in computer science and economics begins with a fairness rule, a procedure or algorithm that determines how to allocate various goods. Normative criteria are then invoked to compare different rules.  Yet no rule satisfies all normative criteria.  We outline an alternative approach that draws inspiration from the social contract tradition.  Briefly, contractarians take the ideal rules to be those rules rational individuals would agree to in certain circumstances.  With the help of a computer simulation, we explore the fragility of agreement and consider whether consensus still exists when individuals have different attitudes toward risk and, alternatively, have drastically different beliefs about the extent to which their interests overlap.

PPE Speaker, Regine Jean-Charles


Time: 11:45am-1:25pm

Location: Renaissance Park 909 and on Zoom (Register for the Zoom event here.)

Title: Do Something Transformative: Black Feminisms and Social Justice
Abstract: This talk explores how Black feminist authors, activists, and artists have use their work to intervene in social justice issues. Using the example of the Combahee River Collective’s statement of their politics as a guide, we will trace how attention to race, gender, and justice animates and inspires the work of Black feminists over time.

PPE/Ethics Institute Speaker, Dr. Larry Blum


Time: 12:00-1:30pm

Location: In-person (240 Dockser Hall) and Zoom (register here)

Title:“Can School Integration Bring About Equal Education?”

Abstract: Racial integration has been oversold to the American public as a low-cost route to equality of education. Educational equality can be created only by reducing inequality—of both a class and a race nature—in the wider society. Serious reduction of poverty, and challenging the wealthy’s “opportunity hoarding” are necessary. Integration by itself is a diversion from the need to challenge white supremacy, requiring a reparative justice response, and the extreme class-based inequities of our current social order. However, integration is a vital component of the moral, civic, and social aspects of education that have been sidelined in our current neoliberal era. Bringing diverse populations into the same schools and classrooms, as a school like CRLS does, is a necessary foundation for preparing future citizens of our multiracial democracy.

Speaker Bio: Lawrence Blum is (Emeritus) Professor of Liberal Arts and Education and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Massachusetts Boston. He works in the areas of philosophy of race, philosophy of education, moral philosophy and social and political philosophy. He is the author of 6 books, including “I’m Not a Racist, But…”: The Moral Quandary of Race, and High Schools, Race, and America’s Future: What Students Can Teach Us About Morality, Diversity, and Community.

PPE/Ethics Institute Speaker, Dr. Robert Talisse


Time: 12:00-1:30pm

Location: Renaissance Park 909 and on Zoom

Title: “Why We Need Political Enemies”

Abstract: When engaged in democratic politics, it often strikes us that our opponents are not only wrong, but in the wrong.  We tend to see them as not merely mistaken, but ignorant, corrupt, and on the side of injustice.  Most accounts of responsible citizenship contend that we must nonetheless uphold civil relations with them.  But why?  When the stakes are high, why not just dismiss our opponents? Why bother trying to maintain civil relations with them?  In this talk, Robert Talisse draws on empirical work concerning belief polarization to argue that we must uphold civil relations with our political enemies, not because we are required to regard them as reasonable, but because in the absence of those relations our political alliances crumble.

Speaker Bio: Robert B. Talisse is W. Alton Jones Professor of Philosophy and Professor of Political Science at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. He specializes in democratic theory, with an emphasis on justice, citizenship, public deliberation, and political disagreement. His most recent research is focused on polarization and partisan animosity. His new book is titled Sustaining Democracy: What We Owe to the Other Side.  It explores the challenges of treating one’s political opponents as nonetheless one’s equals.

PPE/Ethics Institute Speaker, Sabelo Mhlambi


Title:  Can AI Ethics actually fix AI?

Abstract:

Big Tech and Universities have initiated several efforts to mitigate AI bias and the unintended harmful effects of AI in healthcare, social networks, and the criminal justice system through AI Ethics boards, Ethics AI research, Diversity & Inclusion efforts – however do these efforts address the disparities in the distribution of power, agency, and resources within society and between societies, and are they sufficient to produce tangible results especially for the communities who are most likely to be negatively impacted by ever increasing widespread use of AI? This talk will examine the driving forces behind AI, Ethics AI, and the question of power through a racial and Decolonial lens.


Mhlambi is the founder of Bhala, an AI startup that democratizes the advances of AI to millions of Africans through Natural Language Processing of African languages and African visual languages. This event is the first in our fall PPE/Ethics Institute Speaker Series. Mhlambi is also the founder of Bantucracy a public interest organization that focuses on ubuntu ethics and technology.  Mr Mhlambi currently a fellow at the Berkman-Klein Center for Internet & Society, a Fellow at Stanford’s Digital Civil Society Lab, and a 2019-2020 Technology & Human Rights Fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy.

PPE/Ethics Institute Speaker, Michele Moody-Adams


Title: Does Democracy Have A Future?

Abstract:

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.

 

Register here: https://forms.gle/92hdFiA5ddvPWeLLA

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

 

*This event was recorded