• CSU
  • University of Melbourne

This research centre ceased operation on 31 December 2016. This website is archived. There will be no further updates to this site.


Economics and Innovation

The program focuses on central ethical issues arising in the economic sphere. These include the justice of national and global economic arrangements, such as taxation, fiscal, labour and property law, and financial and trading regimes. Specific areas include markets in education and the economics of climate change. The program also examines corporate responsibilities in the spheres of finance, profitability, sustainability and human rights, and distributive justice. It aims to make a major contribution to the ethical understanding of innovation and technology. Program members realize that technical, scientific, legal and social science expertise is vital, and work with practitioners in the relevant professions.


Research in this program examines a range of issues that arise from the nature and value of the natural, and also the artificial environment, and our relationship with them. These include issues of justice and responsibility in relation to possession of, access to, and exploitation of land, water, and other (renewable and non-renewable) natural resources, ethical issues in climate change mitigation and adaptation, including those involving geo-engineering, and the human role in the anthropocene. 


This program addresses issues in bioethics, healthcare ethics, and public health ethics. This includes conceptual work on the ethics of procreation, the ethics of providing medical treatment to vulnerable groups such as children, dual use issues in the biological sciences, and the distinction between medical treatment and human enhancement. It also includes work on practical ethical issues arising in healthcare, including moral and regulatory challenges of experimental therapies, difficulties facing medical research ethics committees, and the problem of determining when conscientious objections are legitimate in healthcare.


This program addresses a variety of conceptual and practical ethical issues that are generated for the most part by the phenomena of war, humanitarian intervention, terrorism, crime and corruption. These include the nature and application of Just War Theory, morality and self-defense, principles of criminal liability, justification for police use of force, ethics of counter-terrorism tactics, anti-corruption systems and ethical issues in cyber-security.


2015 Annual Report [.pdf]

CAPPE Events

Seminar 28th September

Norvo Lo - La Trobe University

This paper discusses social attitudes towards feeding neighbourhood wild birds. It connects different and often opposing attitudes on the issue to three schools of philosophy regarding animals and nature. These include animal liberation ethics, wilderness preservation ethics,and anthropocentrism. 

Contact CAPPE for more information.


Professor Seumas Miller

Institutional Corruption and The Capital Markets  More

Fixing the Fix - Benchmark Reform and the Future of Financial Regulation  More

Designing-in-Ethics: A Compulsary Retirement Savings System  More

Dr Stephen Clarke

On Religious Violence, ABC Western Plains 'Mornings', radio interview  More

Past media events



The Centre has available to it a wide range of expertise to undertake contract research and consultancies. Its philosophers and applied ethicists can be pivotal in clarifying issues of ethics impacting on areas of public life. It also draws on social and natural scientists, lawyers, economists and others from the University of Melbourne and Charles Sturt University to make up effective research teams. It is this cross-discipline approach which makes the connection between the philosophical understanding of issues and solutions, and the practical application of those to real life situations.

What we can do

We are able to work with organisations to:

  • conduct medium and long-term research projects on a wide range of ethical problems confronted by government and the Australian and international community
  • address general ethical issues within the organisation or in relation to the services they provide
  • advise on ethical codes
  • analyse the performance of the organisation against ethical standards
  • provide strategic advice in relation to ethical problems

Who might use our services?

  • Government departments
  • Public organisations
  • Companies and other businesses
  • Community organisations

Our clients (Selection)

  • ACT Government
  • AusAID
  • Australian Computer Society
  • Australian Securities and Investment Commission
  • Australian Taxation Office
  • Bupa
  • Commonwealth Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
  • Commonwealth Department of Defence
  • Commonwealth Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
  • Greater Murray Area Health Service
  • IBM (Europe)
  • Independent Commission Against Corruption
  • International Woman's Development Agency
  • Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India
  • NSW Department of Community services
  • NSW Police Association
  • NSW Police Service
  • Office of the NSW Legal Services Commissioner
  • Oxfam (Great Britain)
  • Professional Standards Council
  • Soros Foundation
  • State Services Authority, Goverment of Victoria
  • Victoria Police

Recent Consultancy Projects

Seumas Miller and Steve Curry – Training Consultancy on Police Ethics funded by Australian Federal Police

Seumas Miller – Research Consultancy on Privacy in Prisons commissioned by ACT Corrections and funded by the ACT Government

Seumas Miller and Michael Selgelid – Australian Government Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet – Ethical and Philosophical Consideration of the Dual-Use Dilemma in the Biological Sciences Download Executive Summary

The so-called “dual-use dilemma” arises in the context of research in the biological and other sciences as a consequence of the fact that one and the same piece of scientific research sometimes has the potential to be used for evil as well as for good.

In the aftermath of the 11th September 2001 attacks in the US, bio-terrorism is widely considered to be a real threat, especially to populations in western countries. Moreover, it is seen as a greater threat from non-state terrorist groups than, say, nuclear WMDs, given the availability of the technical knowledge necessary to produce the relevant biological agents and the feasibility of weaponisation.

Published as an article in Science and Engineering Ethics

Published as a book with Springer

Also available from Amazon

For a review click here

Seumas Miller and Justin O’Brien – State Services Authority, Victoria – People Matter Survey: An Evaluation

The People matter survey is designed to measure employee perceptions of how well the Public Sector Values (PSV) and Employment Principles (EP) are applied. The fundamental aim of the survey in analysable into three main components: (i) to assist in measuring the extent to which the PSV and EP are understood by employees; (ii) to assist in measuring the perceptions of employees in relation to the extent to which the PSV and EP are adhered to; (iii) to assist in measuring the extent to which PSV and EP are in fact adhered to.

Seumas Miller and Mathew Ward – Office of the Legal Commissioner – Complaints and Self-Assessment Data Analysis in Relation to Incorporated Legal Practices Download Report

The project involved: (i) establishing an electronic database derived from existing complaints data and a set of self-assessment forms provided by ILPs as part of an OLSC self-assessment process for ILPs; (ii) development of an instrument to interrogate this data base; (iii) quantitative analysis of the data base. This report sets out the findings of this quantitative analysis.

Andrew Alexandra, Tom Campbell, Dean Cocking, Seumas Miller and Kevin White - Report For The Professional Standards Council - Professionalisation, Ethics and Integrity Systems: The Promotion of Professional Ethical Standards, and the Protection of Clients and Consumers Download Summary Report

The focus in this report is on professional standards that are also ethical standards. These ethico-professional standards obviously include overtly ethical standards such as honesty, respect for privacy, and avoidance of conflicts of interest.

Some technical and market-based standards are not only professional standards, but also ethical standards. Given that many professional standards are also ethical standards, and given that professional standards often serve ethical goals such as consumer protection, a key concern of the PSC is necessarily the promotion of ethico-professional standards.

Academic and other literature of the past two decades highlights the way in which managerial and commercial values are thought to be alienating the traditional professions from their proper ethical goals. Herein lays an important issue for the PSC to confront in the context of its stated commitment to the maintenance and enhancement of ethico-professional standards.

Seumas Miller, Sankar Sen, Prakash Mishra and John Blackler – Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India with assistance of AusAid - Ethical Issues in the Policing of India

Analysing ethical issues from a variety of perspectives, this report argues that police institutions exist to serve the highest of moral purposes; to protect the rights to life, liberty and the property of citizens in a democratic polity. However, the means routinely used by police include harmful methods, such as coercion and deception. This apparent inconsistency between good ends and problematic means sets up a dangerous moral dynamic, not simply in Indian policing but in police-work throughout the world. Accordingly, police practice must comply with carefully worked out ethical principles that appropriately balance the moral rights of victims with those of suspects. It is not hyperbole to say that police practice ought to rest on the bedrock of ethical principles, and there must be accountability of police to ensure this is the case.

Seumas Miller – Professional Standards Council of New South Wales and Western Australia – Model Code of Ethical Principles Download Report

This document attempts to explain the nature and role of codes of ethics. That said, it provides a description of the generic content of codes of ethics, and an outline of the process that needs to be gone through in the devising of a code of ethics.

The specific content of codes of ethics are always matters of dispute. So inevitably the generic content of codes of ethics for occupations will be a matter of dispute. I have sort to offer a specific set of recommendations regarding the generic content of codes of ethics for occupations, and I have offered justifications for the content that I have recommended. However, this should be taken as an indicative list of issues to be covered in any given code of ethics, and not slavishly followed. Reasonable people can disagree on these issues.

Moreover, I have offered a specific process for writing a code of ethics for occupations. Once again, there are other ways of doing it, albeit ways that I do not believe should differ too radically from the process that I have recommended.

Finally, I have not sought to explain and justify, or solve in detail, all the controversial and problematic issues that codes of ethics give rise to. For example, I have not tried to solve the problem of how to write a code of ethics for members of an occupation working in a multi-disciplinary workplace, or working in an organisational setting in which there are potential points of tension between the requirements of the occupation and the requirements of the organisation. However, I have provided some assistance in relation to some of these issues. For example, I argue that codes of ethics for organisations need to be framed in part in relation to the ethically sustainable goals of the organisation. And I elaborate a position in regard to some of these issues, notably the distinction between the professions and other occupations. While accepting that there is no clear dividing line between the professions and other occupations, I nevertheless argue that there are a set of (sometimes not clear cut) criteria for being a profession. Inevitably, other occupations will meet some of these criteria, and some members of some professions will not meet all of them. However, the existence of these grey areas does not vitiate the distinction; it merely complicates the overall picture.

Seumas Miller – Independent Commission Against Corruption – eCorruption Vulnerabilities in the NSW Public Sector Download Report

This report sets forth the results of a research study conducted by the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics (CAPPE) for the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). The purpose of the study is to describe the landscape of corruption vulnerabilities in the NSW public sector with the transition to e-government. The study has two major aspects: (a) to describe the changing opportunities and risks resulting from the changes in technology; and (b) to provide an assessment of the awareness and understanding of senior public sector managers of these changing opportunities and risks.

The first phase of the study was a series of key informant interviews with senior managers, IT (information technology) managers, auditors and investigators, to gain an understanding of the changes in technology and the associated risks, and to develop hypotheses that might be tested in the second phase. The second phase involved a major survey of NSW public sector managers, including IT managers, in relation to perceived e-corruption risks and preventative measures, including IT security systems. The third phase involves the analysis and interpretation of the findings of the first two phases, and the preparation of this document setting forth the overall results of the study.



Initial enquiries from organisations interested in the Centre's consulting services may be directed to:

Ms Michele Lamb
Centre Manager
Tel: +61 2 62726284