CAPPE

  • 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.

CURRENT RESEARCH

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.

Environment

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. 

Health

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.

Security

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.

WHAT'S NEW

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.


CAPPE Media


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

2010 SEMINARS

 

Canberra Seminars

 

Wednesday 1st of December: Toni Erskine (University of Aberswyth)

Title: Kicking Bodies and Damning Souls: The Danger of Harming 'Innocent' Individuals While Punishing 'Delinquent' States
Abstract

It is both possible and important to talk about institutions, in the sense of formal organizations, as moral agents in world politics. As moral agents, institutions can be assigned duties. They can also be blamed for failing to discharge them. But how can we respond to this type of failure? Punishment is a prominent and problematic response to institutional delinquency. This talk explores three potential problems with any attempt to punish an institution at the corporate level, each of which focuses on what such an attempt risks doing to the institution's individual human constituents. I label these potential problems 'guilt by association', 'misdirected harm' and 'overspill'. I illustrate each by turning to the danger of harming 'innocent' individuals while ostensibly punishing 'delinquent' states through organized violence, drawing on examples of discrepancies between the justifications for punitive action and the ultimate objects of harm in the recent wars in Afghan! istan and Iraq. In conclusion, I argue that particular forms of punishment cannot represent morally coherent responses to culpability that is located at the corporate level of an institution. Punitive war waged against the 'delinquent' state, when responsibility for harm and wrongdoing is not distributive amongst its individual members, provides an extreme and consequential case of such incoherence.

 

Wednesday 24th of November: Mark Drumbl

Title: International Criminal Law: Accomplishments, Challenges, and Transcending Progress Narratives
Abstract

This project unpacks recent developments within the field of international criminal law, in particular: institution-building; judicial and jurisprudential output; cultivation of an epistemic community; and political management. The project then identifies a number of future challenges faced by the field which are, in part, attributable to the very success of its own progress narrative. I posit four challenges for the future: (re)nationalisation; operational diversity; scrutiny: from faith to science; and polyvalence in truth-telling.

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Wednesday 17th of November: Seumas Miller

Title: Targeted Killing
Abstract

The term, “targeted killing” has recently come into general use in relation to the state-sanctioned killing by state operatives of members of non-state terrorist groups, notably of PLO and Hamas members by Mossad operatives. Israel is salient here if only because it has since 2000 openly pursued a policy of targeted killings and named it as such. The January 2010 killing in Dubai of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a senior Hamas leader, has also been ascribed to Mossad. This paper explores the ethical issues involved in targeted killing.

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Wednesday 10th of November: Fiona Jenkins

Title: Strangers Inside: Figures of Allegiance and Association
Abstract

There has been a policy in the Netherlands of showing would-be immigrants a photograph of a gay couple kissing in order to ‘test’ their tolerant or intolerant sensibilities. One might also say this is a test of potential for allegiance to the progressive rights by which this country is defining itself. Modernity, in this instance, is linked to sexual freedom; but it is hard not to sense something dogmatic in making a response on this level into something that would qualify or disqualify a person as eligible for civic membership, and thus entry to the nation. Working at the level of the body, and the visceral character of reaction to a stimulus, the test illustrates the problematic tension that subsists within a framework that requires of its citizens an autonomy of reason and judgment grounding liberal attitudes, but excludes from membership on the basis of presumed traits of identity that would render the enactment of such autonomy impossible. The difficulty reflects persistent tensions between the ways in which identities may be understood in relation to what are taken for ‘universal’ (liberal-democratic) principles as opposed to ‘particular’ (cultural) values and reactions, alongside the familiar paradox that liberalism tolerates only what is liberal. I argue that a further dimension of this situation appears when we consider what the correct response to the test is intended to ‘perform’ (in Austin’s sense of performatives) with respect to demonstrating the choice-worthiness and binding force of social norms. By developing the relationship between these points, the paper offers a critical consideration of the cultural politics attending the demand for demonstrating allegiance to fundamental principles of liberty and equality as a condition of belonging.

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Wednesday 3rd of November: Hayley Stevenson

Title: Discursive Representation in Global Climate Governance
Abstract

In recent times, the post-neoliberal bloc of Latin America countries, ALBA, has fashioned a new role for itself in multilateral negotiations on climate change. With the explicit intention of making "the peoples'" voices their own, ALBA governments (led by Bolivian president Evo Morales) have sought to collaborate with social movements and insert their ideas into the various texts under negotiation in the UNFCCC. This novel form of post-sovereign representation is best understood as 'discursive representation'. Despite ALBA's repeated claim to be speaking for a generic "people", discourse analysis of key texts points to a common discourse of Green Radicalism shared by many social movements and post-neoliberal Latin American governments. The aim of this paper is to analyse and evaluate this form of representation in international climate negotiations. I argue that such discursive representation is potentially positive for two reasons. First, because it presents one step toward! s overcoming the 'democratic deficit' of global climate governance by drawing attention to the needs and interests of a broader range of affected people. And second, because the representation of diverse discourses in global climate governance is vital for preventing the unchallenged dominance of any one discourse. Nevertheless, it is important to critically evaluate such representation. In this seminar I will present a set of research questions that will inform my evaluation.

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Wednesday 27th of October: Gerhard Overland

Title: Moral Obstacles: On Killing People as a Side Effect
Abstract

In one scenario you may need to defend yourself and nine others by killing an unjust aggressor and thereby also unavoidably an innocent non-threatening person standing nearby. In another scenario you may need to grab and kill an innocent person to shield yourself and nine others from the aggressor. While in the first scenario it may seem permissible to defend yourself, in the latter defending yourself seems impermissible. The standard way to justify the difference between such cases is to look at the intentions of the agent and whether or not she uses the non-threatening person as a means to her survival. This approach leads to puzzling situations, and its rationale is quite puzzling as well. Why should what goes on in the mind of the agent matter to whether killing the other person is permissible, and why is it worse to use a person's death than to disregard it? In this paper I defend the view that there is a morally relevant difference between the two types of killing. However, I argue that it relates to the circumstances the people to be killed find themselves in, and not to what is going on in the agent's mind or the means that she uses. The crux of the proposal is that when people are in the way of other people's defensive action their mere presence give rise to cost that some innocent non-threatening people have to bear. It is therefore fair that these people bear some of the cost and do not leave it all to the defending party.

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Wednesday 20th of October: Scott Wisor

Title: Moral Priorities for INGOs: An Institutional Account
Abstract

INGOs face difficult choices in deciding how to allocate scarce resources. I reject two claims regarding the distribution of INGO resources—that resources should be distributed according to broadly consequentialist principles, and that accepting such principles should lead INGOs to operate in a small number of highly morally cost effective countries. I then propose an alternative approach, whereby reasons for distributional choices are to be grounded in the teleology of the institution, and I suggest several such reasons that should influence INGO decision making in resource allocation.

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Wednesday 13th of October: Pieter E. Vermaas

Title:The Analysis of Artefacts in Philosophy of Engineering and Its Metaphysical Consequences
Abstract

In the paper I plan to sketch work on the analysis of technical artefacts in engineering as it has been developed at the Delft department of philosophy, together with Wybo Houkes. This analysis focussed on descriptions of the use and design of technical artefacts, and proposed to conceptualise this in terms of plans of use for technical artefacts. Recently this plan analysis of technical artefacts has been extended to also the production of artefacts, in part to define the very notion of technical artefact, and in part to criticise current work on the metaphysics of artefacts as put forward by Amie Thomasson. In a nutshell the criticism is that Thomasson’s metaphysics presupposes a single agent whose intentions are constitutive to the kind of artefact produced, whereas the analysis of artefact production in engineering shows that in present-day manufacturing too many agents are involved to single out one with the relevant intentions. I present this criticism, but also articulate a problem with it. Engineering does not provide an unambiguous basis for giving an analysis of artefacts, turning the effort into a rational reconstruction of artefact use, design and production. This reconstruction is, moreover, to serve more projects in philosophy than metaphysics, raising worries about the possibility to use the plan analysis of artefacts for criticising positions in metaphysics, or improving on them.

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Wednesday 6th of October: Aleksandar Pavković

Title:Is there a right to secede?
Abstract

Several UN resolutions and conventions, from 1960 onwards, assert a universal right of ‘all peoples’ to self-determination. In practice, this right has been only applied to whole populations of overseas colonies of European states within the borders of these colonies. In practice, this right has not been understood to imply a universal right of ‘any people’ to secede from any state in which it may reside. Many philosophers – as well as secessionists – have argued for non-universal right of selected groups to secede. This paper discusses the following two sets of questions: (1) How does one identify the group which holds the right to secede? That is, how is one to identify the right-holder of this right? (2) What obligations of third parties is this right supposed to generate and in which way are these obligations generated? A major problem for any theory of secession is to identify the right holder without descending into a circularity such as ‘this group has the right to secede because it is worthy of having such a right’. But if one identifies the right holder by its allegedly unique cultural characteristics, the question arises as to how cultural characteristics of a certain kind give rise to a right to control a separate armed force and to use this armed force to deny control over a territory to any other group. The right to secede is thought to generate the obligation of the host state to withdraw its own agents/officials and recognize, formally, the independence of the seceded state; this would secure the liberty of the right-holder to create its own state. But does the right generate any obligation of the individuals and states outside the host state to assist, if necessary by armed force, the right-holder to establish its state? Does the right to secede justify the use of armed and/or lethal force – by the right holder or any of its supporters – against those who refuse to recognize the right? If it does, how does the right generate this justification/permission? In the paper, I shall be content to raise questions and doubts regarding this right. I do not believe that this right is needed to protect groups – in particular, secessionist movements – that seek to secede. Freedom of political association and the prohibition on the use of force against non-violent political movements provide sufficient protection of these groups. As I argued in another paper, the norm asserting the paramount value of human life severely restricts the right to use lethal force in pursuit of political territorial goals. In view of this, I cannot see how could the right to secede can override this norm. In conclusion, I believe that a theory of secession seeking to articulate the norms that would decrease conflict and harm arising from attempts to secessions, could do without any right to secede.

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Wednesday 29th of September: Dr Stephen Coleman (Senior Lecturer in Ethics and Leadership and Vincent Fairfax Foundation Fellow, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, UNSW@ADFA)

Title:Discrimination and Non-Lethal Weapons: Issues for the Future Military
Abstract

There are many situations where it would obviously be extremely useful for military personnel to have access to Non-Lethal Weapons (NLW), especially in humanitarian, peace-keeping and COIN operations, and in other situations where the distinction between combatants and non-combatants tends to be blurred. However there are also some obvious problems with the use of such weapons, including the fact that some NLW might violate existing conventions on Chemical or Biological Weapons, and that there may be the temptation for personnel equipped with such weapons to use them inappropriately. Perhaps the most serious problem is the fact that many advocates for the military use of non-lethal weapons suggest that such weapons might be able to be used without regard for the principle of discrimination. The claim is that since such weapons do not kill they do not cause harm, and thus discrimination might be applied after the use of force rather than before; i.e. in decisions about how to deal with persons incapacitated by the use of NLW rather than in decisions about who to target with such weapons. This paper examines the likely benefits and harms of the use of NLW by military personnel, as well as examining the issues of discrimination that may arise from the use of such weapons.

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Wednesday 22th of September: Jovana Davidovic

Title:International Law and Killing in War
Abstract

I have two aims in this paper. In a broad sense the aim of this paper is to suggest an appropriate place for the institution of international law in discussions of global justice. I argue that the necessary features of the institution of international law (necessary features of a legal institution which itself is necessary for coordination on a global scale) can and should be used to reject some and accept other theories of global justice. More specifically, I argue that if international law has a raison d'être that is neutral with respect to any single theory of justice or understanding of human rights, and if that raison d'être gives sufficient reasons to believe international law must have certain structures and not others, then those structures can in fact be used as limiting tools for accepting some and rejecting other principles of international justice. The narrow aim of this paper is to show how my argument would work with respect to a particular dilemma raised by the principle of the moral equality of combatants. The principle, in its most simple form, states that ‘combatants do no wrong by simply fighting on the side lacking a just cause, i.e. their moral status is prima facie equal to that of combatants fighting on the just side.’ The critics of this principle, like Jeff McMahan, argue that justice of the cause for war affects the justice of fighting in such a war. He concludes that combatants on the unjust and just side are not morally equal, but that for simply pragmatic reasons “at present” there is and ought to be a legal equality of combatants. I will argue that the implicative principle of inequality of combatants which McMahan suggests cannot (ever) be institutionalized in international law. I will furthermore suggest that there is a moral responsibility to institutionalize some principle to guide fighting in war and that the principle of equality of combatants is the only one compatible with the morally salient rule-of-law and other necessary conditions of international law. If, as I argue, the principle of equality of combatants must be a part of international law, then, I believe, there is a heavier burden of proof for the proponents of the principle of inequality of combatants.

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Wednesday 15th of September: Michael Selgelid

Title:The Value of Security: A Moderate Pluralist Perspective
Abstract

It is commonly thought that infectious diseases pose potential conflicts between security and basic human rights and liberties. Such conflicts may occur both in the context of naturally occurring infectious diseases and the context of biological weapons. This apparent conflict in values raises questions about the value of security: Why and/or how is security valuable, if at all? And how should (the value of) security be weighed against other values? On the one hand, the value of security may be merely promotional. On this account, the value of security may be closely related to instrumental values. While instrumental values are valued because they bring about things taken to be intrinsically valued, security may be valued for the maintenance of intrinsic values once they are in place. On such an account, security is valued because it involves protection of what we really care about. On an alternate plausible account, security might be valued for its own sake. If two lives contain equal amounts of (other) things considered to be valuable for their own sake, but one life is highly vulnerable (i.e., insecure) while the other is not, then it would not be unreasonable/irrational to think the latter life is of higher quality. Similar conclusions might be drawn when comparing more and less vulnerable societies or worlds (which are equally good in other respects). If security is valuable for its own sake, however, it should not be considered just another intrinsic value—because it comes at a different level. Rather than security merely being an additional intrinsic value, that is, security would be something wanted with respect to more ordinary intrinsic values. On a pluralistic account we might say that there are a plurality of potentially conflicting (ordinary) intrinsic goods—e.g., utility and liberty (with respect to the good of society)—and a plurality of potentially conflicting legitimate aims regarding them—i.e., maximization, fair distribution, and security/protection. If this is correct, then the value conflicts associated with infectious disease securitization might not simply involve conflict between security and liberty after all. To the contrary, they may partly involve conflict between the maximization of liberty, on the one hand, and the security/protection of liberty on the other—and/or they may involve conflict between the maximization of liberty, on the one hand, and the security/protection of utility, on the other. Whether security should be considered to be merely promotional or valuable for its own sake, reflection on the value of security sheds light upon the anatomy of values.

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Wednesday 1st of September: Marilyn Friedman

Title:Christman on Persons, Autonomy, and Politics
Abstract

John Christman’s latest book, The Politics of Persons, defends an individualist, anti-perfectionist conception of personal autonomy. On Christman’s account, persons are conceptualized as “socio-historical” selves. A central requirement of his account of autonomy is that a person not be alienated from her fundamental commitments when reflecting on them in light of how they developed (other conditions also apply). This conception of autonomous persons is intended to serve certain political purposes, such as providing a model of citizens for principles of justice that apply to modern, democratic pluralistic societies characterized by systematic power inequalities. I raise various political and social concerns about Christman’s account.

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Wednesday 25th of August: Jason Brennan

Title:When Citizens Should Not Vote
Abstract

Just because one has the right to vote does not mean just any vote is right. Even though individual bad votes are harmless, citizens should not vote badly. This duty to avoid voting badly is grounded in a general duty not to engage in collectively harmful activities when the personal cost of restraint is low. Good governance is a public good. Bad governance is a public bad. We should not be contributing to public bads when the benefit to ourselves is low.

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Wednesday 18th of August: Seth Lazar

Title:The Moral Importance of Winning
Abstract

Contemporary advocates of the rights-based account of war have inadequately theorised the moral importance of winning. Their focus on the liabilities of states and individuals has led them away from properly assessing the purposes of using military force. But this neglect is unsustainable—both advocates and critics of the rights-based account of war depend on a well-developed understanding of the moral importance of winning, both for their internal coherence, and to ensure they are broadly consistent with common sense. And yet, adherents to this view are ill-equipped to elucidate the moral importance of winning, especially in defensive wars against a less-than murderous enemy. In particular, their commitment to impartiality and ethical individualism prevents them from accommodating collectivist dimensions of the moral importance of winning, while their restrictive focus on interpersonal morality obscures the moral importance of the institutions which structure war, and to which war is such a threat.

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Wednesday 11th of August: Larry May

Title:Proportionality in the Fog of War
Abstract

In this paper I will reflect on the role that the jus post bellum principles play in the Just War tradition in general, paying special attention to the principle of proportionality. And I will also consider how we should think about the concept of war in general after our jus post bellum reflections. I shall consider the end of war, understood as the end to all war, not merely the end to a particular war, as the United Nations Charter seemingly promised, when it was announced in the Preamble that the People of the United Nations were “determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.” If people who were contemplating going to war had to think seriously about post war issues, would they be less likely to initiate war in the first place? And how should we view the so-called “fog of war?” I will suggest that contingent pacifism is made more plausible when considering jus post bellum.

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Wednesday 4th of August: John Dryzek (ANU Political Science Program)

Title:Toward a Deliberative Global Citizens' Assembly
Abstract

There is widespread acceptance that there is a global democratic deficit. However, while recognizing the deficit is easy, remedying it is going to be hard. Most existing proposals for global democratization are not very imaginative in that they begin from the assumption that the model for a global democracy already exists in something like the form already taken by developed liberal democracies. The most prominent such model is the ‘popularly elected global assembly’ or PEGA. We accept the basic justifications for global democracy advanced by PEGA campaigners, but believe there is a need to move beyond facile invocations of electoral democracy at the global level. We examine the contribution to the development of global deliberative democracy that could be made by assemblies of ordinary citizens drawn from all the countries of the world. We propose a Deliberative Global Citizens’ Assembly or DGCA. This assembly would be both deliberative and composed of ordinary citizens of the world – not elected politicians. We do not proclaim it as the solution to the problem of effective and democratic global governance, but rather call for its exploration as a democratically legitimate complement to existing international institutions and one component of emerging global deliberative systems.

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Wednesday 28th of July: Dr. Anne Schwenkenbecher (CAPPE)

Title:Collective Moral Obligations and Climate Change
Abstract

The existing philosophical literature on the ethics of climate change and on climate justice is mainly concerned with how burdens of mitigation, adaptation, and, to some degree, compensation can be justly distributed between states. It is widely accepted that industrialized or wealthy countries in particular have a moral obligation or duties of justice to shoulder these burdens. Without questioning the relevance of these approaches, in my paper I want to suggest that moral obligations of a state are best understood as the collective moral obligations of its individual citizens exercised by the state, or rather, by its institutions. Hence, in a first step, I will sketch an account of institutional duties as a form of collective duties of individuals. In a second step I seek to show what implications this has for the climate change-related duties of (citizens of) industrialized or wealthy countries. This approach seeks to reconcile two intuitions regarding global injustices. On the one hand, with regard to climate change and global poverty individuals seem to have stringent moral duties. On the other hand, confronting problems of global dimensions appears overly demanding for individuals and institutionalization seems necessary in order to avoid problems of coordination and non-compliance. My approach seeks to offer solutions to these problems, while at the same time attempting to make sense of the ascription of moral obligations and duties of global justice to states. Furthermore, this approach implies that if the institutionalization of collective moral duties in a given state is insufficient, individual citizens must contribute more than is legally demanded from them.

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Wednesday 21st of July: Geoffrey Brennan (Economics, ANU)

Title:The Tyranny of Public Opinion
Abstract

Mill’s On Liberty makes two central distinctions: one between ‘coercion’ motivated by a desire to avoid a harm to the coerced individual and ‘coercion’ motivated by a desire to avoid a harm to some other(s); and the other between coercion orchestrated by government action and coercion via the “tyranny of popular opinion”. The former is the distinction that does normative work. The latter is in Mills view not a distinction of substance at all: his claim is that the tyranny of popular opinion and the tyranny of governments are of a piece. For him, the issue is really that political and social philosophers have focused excessively on government as a source of coercion and overlooked the implications for liberty of ‘public opinion’. My view is that both of Mill’s distinctions are in different ways problematic; but in particular the (normatively relevant) first distinction cannot carry over to the case of popular opinion. So if the first distinction is valid, the claim that there is no significant difference between government coercion and coercion via popular opinion cannot be upheld.

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Wednesday 14th of July: Emma Aisbett (Crawford School of Economics and Government)

Title:Government as a means to achieve collective action: an economic perspective

Abstract

Economics has a long tradition of assessing government policy primarily in terms of maximizing the size of the economic pie. Other issues, such as low inequality, gender equity, etc. have been relegated to “other objectives” which the government may be pursuing and are generally viewed as constraints on the achievement of Pareto optimality. Meanwhile, advances in behavioural and environmental economics over the last couple of decades have seen a growing acceptance of the inclusion of things other than personal consumption in utility functions. I argue that when this broader conception of a utility function is applied, many of the issues previously labelled “other objectives” can be understood in welfare maximizing, optimal policy terms. Furthermore, I question the legitimacy of government actions which cannot be understood in these terms.

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Wednesday 30th of June: David Blankfein-Tabachnick and Kevin Kordana (Peking University School of Transnational Law and University of Virginia)

Title:A Property Law Refutation of the "Tax and Transfer Preference"

Abstract

The paper addresses the efficiency question of the “tax and transfer preference.” That is, Kaplow and Shavell’s important and prominent claim that equity-oriented distributive demands are always more efficiently achieved through systems of income taxation and transfer, than through all “other legal rules.” Kaplow and Shavell famously reach their conclusion through a comparison of the efficiency of rules of tort to rules of tax and transfer in meeting equity-oriented aims, concluding that taxation and transfer is always more efficient than other private law legal rules. We maintain that Kaplow and Shavell reach their important conclusion only through inattention to an important body of private law rules that inform the very basis of their discussion: namely property. We argue that Kaplow and Shavell’s comparison of rules of taxation to rules of tort fails to take proper account of the powerful role that changing underlying property conceptions plays in achieving the equity-oriented distributive aims of competing maximands. We conclude, contra Kaplow and Shavell that as a matter of efficiency taxation and transfer is not always preferable to rules of property in achieving equity-oriented distributive aims.

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Wednesday 23th of June: Tom Campbell (CAPPE)

Title:Justice, Humanity and Prudence

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Wednesday 9th of June: Bruce Chapman (Crawford School of Economics and Government)

Title:Understanding HECS in a Policy and Political Economy Perspective

Abstract

The presenter helped design and develop the Australian Higher Education Contribution Scheme in 1989, and has been involved with reforms of student loans along similar lines in around 20 other countries since then. The talk will examine the political and policy context relevant to this significant change to Australian higher education, and will explore important aspects of the role of the researcher as a policy adviser.

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Wednesday 2nd of June: Steve Vanderheiden (CAPPE, UC)

Title:The Ethics of Free Riding

Abstract

Does the receipt of benefits from some common resource create an obligation to contribute toward its maintenance? If so, what is the basis of this obligation? Here, I shall consider the ethics of free riding, which as an act involves the implicit rejection of any such obligation, and shall do so through the consideration of the practical case of free riding upon the stability of the planet's climate system by enjoying its benefits but refusing to bear one’s share of the costs of its maintenance. Two main arguments will be advanced: the first urges further modification of H.L.A. Hart’s “principle of fairness” as the basis for demanding that would-be free riders pay their fair share in the context of climate change, while the second claims that remedial responsibility for climate change is better captured through collective action analysis than through harm principles that seek to connect individual actions to bad environmental outcomes.

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Wednesday 19th of May: John Weckert (CAPPE)

Title:Trust as “seeing as” in the virtual world

Abstract

An account of trust in terms of seeing someone as trustworthy will be defended here. To trust is to operate within something like a Kuhnian paradigm. This notion highlights various aspects of trust, for example the relationship between the cognitive and the attitudinal, its robustness and the fact that frequently develops very quickly. This account is then applied to the virtual world where it gives an explanation for the prevalence of virtual trust in an environment where it might be expected not to flourish.

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Wednesday 12th of May: Mhairi Cowden (CAPPE)

Title:Why a child doesn’t have a right to be loved

Abstract

It is often stated in international and domestic legal documents that children have a right to be loved. Yet there is very little explanation of why this right exists or what it entails. Matthew Liao seeks to provide such an explanation by arguing that children have a right to be loved as a human right. I will examine Liao’s explanation and in turn argue that children do not have a right to be loved. I will argue that ‘loving’ cannot be a duty and even if we were willing to concede that it is, enforcing such a right may lead to harm.

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Wednesday 5th of May: John Kleinig (CAPPE/ City University of New York)

Title:Organisational Loyalty

Abstract

Organisations frequently expect the loyalty of their members or employees, and often seek it from their clients. Are they justified in doing so, and how demanding should such loyalty be? What makes an organisational obligation an obligation of loyalty? These are some of the questions to be addressed, along with discussions of the relation between organizational loyalty and loyalty to management, peers, supervisors, and profession. If there is time, there may be some discussion of whistle blowing.

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Wednesday 28th of April: Peter Morriss (NUI Galway, Ireland)

Title:Casuistry and Chess: Why we should pay no attention to Intuitions in Ethics

Abstract

Casuistry is a method in ethics that consists in examining cases (from which the name is derived). The idea is that we should not attempt to discover general ethical principles, from which we can deduce the rightness or wrongness of a course of action; instead, we should examine each case in its full complexity. The required logic is analogical (using analogy) from paradigm cases, rather than deductive from general principles. When analysed carefully, this method turns out to be identical to the method that strong players use when playing chess (well). In this paper, I will try to explore what lessons we can learn from the undeniable success of the casuistic method in chess for the application of this method to other areas. A hint as to what one of these conclusions might be is provided in the subtitle.

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Wednesday 21th of April: Keith Dowding (Political Science, ANU)

Title:Rationality, Reasons and Reasonable Agreement: Political Argument in Brian Barry

Abstract

Barry’s justice as impartiality relies upon Scanlon’s contractual device of ‘reasonable rejection’. Many have criticised both Barry and Scanlon for not defining precisely what reasonable is, further suggesting that what is reasonable or rational is culturally specific and cannot underlie a universal account of justice, such as justice as impartiality. In the paper I try to uncover the role of rationality, reasons and reasonable agreement in Barry’s book Justice as Impartiality, in part by looking back at his first book Political Argument and specify in what sense the theory provide a universal account of justice and in what sense it can sustain quite different accounts of justice.

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Wednesday 14th of April - Peter Balint (UNSW@ ADFA)

Title:State promotion of breastfeeding (with Tiziana Torresi, Oxford)

Abstract

Breastfeeding is now promoted by many western governments as best for the welfare of infants. But to what extent is this promotion justified? This paper discusses three sources of problems for western liberal governments in justifying such promotion. First, despite the claims that breastfeeding has overwhelming and significant long term health benefits for infants, a careful review of the available scientific literature does not support this position. Second, for those concerned with autonomy promotion and protection, there is a serious concern when women are subjected to aggressive and emotive campaigning in favour of breastfeeding especially at a crucial and vulnerable stage in their lives. This influences a choice which can have a profound effect in the future sharing of parenting duties and therefore on women’s role within the family and involvement in outside paid work. Third, there is a problem of neutral justification. The promotion of breastfeeding rests on thick notions of the proper role of women as mothers and a specific notion of ‘correct parenting’. These are particular conceptions of the good, not uniformly shared in our societies. We conclude therefore that from both a perfectionist and a neutralist take on liberal justification there are serious reasons for questioning the justifiability of the current promotion of breastfeeding by western liberal governments.

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Wednesday 7th of April: Jane Stapleton (ANU, Law)

Title:Which relations should the law designate as causal?

Abstract

Philosophers seem to talk past one another when they discuss causation. In assessing a metaphysical account of causation some judge it against how causal language is used and, perhaps, something called intuition, while others reach out to a crude science and want only to designate as ‘causal’ those relations they see as active forces. In the world there are relations of blame, of explanation, or only of a physical role and so on. If our causal terminology is used sometimes to mean one relation and sometimes to mean another, it does not denote a single relation in the world: the search for a coherent freestanding metaphysical account of “causation” is doomed. Lawyers need their terms to have as precise and unambiguous a meaning as possible. The law should precisely designate what that term means for its own purposes and ignore the fact that the term “cause” has a range of vague meanings outside the law. In this talk I will consider the range of relations in which the law is interested and argue that any form of involvement in the existence of the particular phenomenon should be designated as a “causal” relation. It will be helpful to keep in mind the following exemplar relations. [1] A retailer would have made a $Y profit from a farmer fulfilling a contractual promise to deliver peas on Tuesday. . . a delivery which turned out to be impossible, though the farmer used all care to fulfill his promise to deliver. The retailer’s financial situation has remained static yet lawyers say that the farmer’s contractual breach “caused” the retailer to suffer a $Y “loss”. What relation must the law be designating as “causal” in such a case? [2] The 9 members of a club’s governing committee unanimously vote in favour of a motion to expel Member X from the club, where a majority of only 5 was needed under the club’s rules. The vote of Committee Member No.1 is neither necessary nor sufficient for the motion to pass. This is true of the vote of each member, yet the motion passed. Consider the relation of the vote of one Committee member to the passage of the motion: should the law designate that relation as “a cause” of the motion to expel passing? [3] Due to the carelessness of each of two unrelated hunters, a mountain walker is simultaneously shot by both and the medical evidence is clear that either shot would have been sufficient to result in instantaneous death. Is the relation of Hunter No.1 to the walker’s death ‘causal’?

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Wednesday 31th of March: Gerhard verland (University of Oslo/ CSU CAPPE)

Title: 602 and One Dead Contribution to global poverty and its implications for liability to defensive resistance

Abstract

Do we the affluent in the developed world have stringent, demanding, and constraining contribution-based duties to address global poverty? Perhaps we do have such duties. In this paper, however, I shall simply argue that we have no such contribution-based duties unless certain violent actions would become permissible as a consequence of our failure to discharge these duties. Hence I argue that either we dont have any stringent, demanding, and constraining duties, or we do indeed have such duties and are thus liable to the use of defensive force. By suggesting that we are legitimate targets of defensive force due to our alleged contribution to global poverty one is likely to be countered by one of two strategies. The first denies that we contribute to global poverty. The second seems to affirm that we contribute, and even that we have stringent, demanding, and constraining contribution-based duties to address this poverty, but denies that such contribution makes forcible resistance permissible. Those in this second group employ several argumentative strategies: they say that each affluent individuals contribution is too small to warrant forcible resistance; they say that the affluent are innocent; they say that the causal path cannot be identified; they say that there is at least uncertainty about whether the affluent contribute; they say that use of force will not bring an end to poverty; they say that the type of contribution at stake is not the standard type of contribution and doesnt imply permission to use force. In this paper I investigate these strategies for denying the force-related implication of contribution to poverty. I do not argue for political violence or for a permissibility of targeting the affluent, I merely investigate a conditional: If contribution to global poverty generates stringent, demanding, and constraining duties to address it, then this contribution implies permission on the part of the victims to defend themselves with force, or for third parties to use force on their behalf. Note that my interest is in the in principle permissibility of using force against the affluent, and not its actual execution. That is, whether affluent people become liable to forceful resistance by their alleged contribution to global poverty. Note also that the affluent may have duties that are somehow contribution-based that do not entail any, or very limited, permissibility to use force on the part of the poor, but then, as I shall argue, these type of contribution-based duties are neither as stringent, demanding, or constraining as they are alleged to be.

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Wednesday 24th of March: Ned Dobos (CAPPE)

Title: Positive Duties and the Shareholder Model of Business Ethics

Abstract

Libertarianism and the shareholder model of corporate responsibility have long been thought of as natural bedfellows. In a recent contribution to the Journal of Business Ethics, Brian Schaefer goes so far as to suggest that a proponent of shareholder theory cannot coherently and consistently embrace any moral position other than philosophical libertarianism. The view that managers have a fiduciary obligation to advance the interests of shareholders exclusively is depicted as fundamentally incompatible with the acknowledgement of natural positive duties – duties to aid others that have not been acquired by some prior commitment or transaction. I argue that positive duties are incompatible with the shareholder model only if we must contribute to their fulfilment in the corporate context; that is, only if we have some reason to think that it is not possible or not permissible to discharge these obligations entirely in our private lives or through our various other roles and capacities. Do we have reason to accept this? Individuals are presumptively free to decide how and when to discharge their positive duties. Unless buying shares somehow causes this presumption to lapse, a non-libertarian moral theory can be held without incoherence by a proponent of the shareholder model.

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Wednesday 17th of March: Christopher Wellman (CAPPE)

Title: The Rights-Forfeiture Theory of Punishment

Abstract

Punishment is notoriously difficult to justify because, by definition, it involves visiting hard treatment upon those who are punished. The rights-forfeiture theory of punishment contends that punishment is justified when and because the criminal has forfeited her right not to be subjected to this hard treatment. This view has very few advocates. In fact, because of a number of apparently devastating objections, this account is seldom even taken seriously by those who work on the morality of punishment. In this talk I aim to rehabilitate the rights-forfeiture account by offering responses to each of the standard criticisms.

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Wednesday 10th of March: Christian Barry (CAPPE)

Title: On the hierarchical approach to moral uncertainty

(paper co-authored with Patrick Tomlin, Oxford)

Abstract

With respect to issues that are the subject of heated moral and political debate, we are often uncertain about what to believe about them. Indeed, even suspending belief about their moral status often seems to be the most reasonable position to take. However, whatever we may decide to believe about matters of practical concern under conditions of principled moral uncertainty, we must ordinarily decide to act in a way that reflects some attitude towards them. What, then, should we do when we dont know what to believe about what we should do? More specifically, what should we regard as morally permitted, when we are unsure about what is morally permitted? In this essay, we critically examine one way of taking the beliefs of an agent into account in deciding the most reasonable conduct option for her under conditions of moral uncertainty. We shall call the Hierarchical Approach, and define it in terms of two propositions that it affirms:

  • (1) If an agent is choosing between an act that is (by her own lights) certainly permissible and an act that (by her own lights) may be impermissible, she must always choose the act that she is certain is permissible; AND
  • (2) If an agent is choosing between an act that (by her own lights) may be permissible and an act that is (by her own lights) certainly impermissible, then she must choose the act that she is certain is possibly permissible.

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Wednesday 3d of March (2010): Scott Wisor (CAPPE)

Title: Developing a New Global Poverty Metric: Toward a Pro-Poor Approach

Abstract

There is widespread disagreement about what poverty is and how it should be measured. In this paper I develop a methodological framework for analyzing poverty. I argue that poverty is an essentially contested concept and there are multiple plausible conceptions of poverty. Similarly, there are multiple plausible poverty metrics that can be and have been developed. I argue that poverty measurement has hitherto been treated as value-neutral, despite the inherently value-laden nature of poverty conceptions and metrics. I argue for an ameliorative approach to poverty analysis that is explicitly normative, explicate the ameliorative approach, and defend it against common objections. I will then sketch how such an approach might contribute to the development of a pro-poor global poverty metric.

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Wednesday 24th of February (2010) : Professor Christel Fricke (University of Oslo)

Title: What we cannot do to each other – On Forgiveness and Moral Vulnerability

Abstract

In this paper, I explore the conditions under which moral forgiveness becomes an issue, namely our moral vulnerability to each other. Moral invulnerability does not depend on a meritocratic or perfectionist understanding of morality (as Charles Griswold seems to imply). According to our Western, egalitarian understanding of morality, the morality of a person relies in this person intrinsic value or moral dignity. The attribution of dignity to a human being neither depends on this being’s moral merit, nor does it depend on the social role this being might have within a society. It is out of reach of anything a human being can do either to another human being or to herself or himself. Thus, an offender cannot damage the dignity of his victim; nor can he completely undermine his own dignity. Human beings are morally invulnerable to each other, if ‘moral vulnerability’ is to be understood in terms of the vulnerability of dignity. But dignity is a normative status, not a psychic disposition. In order to be able to perform as a responsible moral agent, a person needs a stable and mature psyche. A healthily born baby may have the disposition to develop such a psyche, but in order to actually become such a person it depends on being brought up by loving, caring, and morally respectful people. A child is morally vulnerable in the sense of being in danger to suffer psychic damage that hinders it from becoming a morally responsible agent. And even a fully responsible moral agent’s psyche is not invulnerable. Human beings are morally vulnerable – not in the normative, but in the psychological sense of the term.

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Wednesday 15th of January (2010) at 4pm: Steve Clarke

Title: Consequentialism,Coercion and Salvational

Abstract

There are many salvific exclusivists and consequentialism is very influential in philosophical ethics. The combination of these two intellectual commitments is extremely dangerous. In virtue of her intellectual commitments, a consequentialist who is also a salvific exclusivist will consider that she has a moral obligation to ensure that everyone accepts her religion. If they will not do so voluntarily, then she will have a compelling reason to attempt to coerce others to accept her religion, and a compelling reason to coerce others to prevent proselytizing on behalf of other religions. If the state tries to prevent her from using coercive means to achieve these ends then she will have a compelling reason to attempt to overthrow the state.  It may seem that there are few sorts of states that would be able to tolerate the presence of consequentialist salvific exclusivists other than religious states that happen to endorse her religion. However, it is possible for the liberal state to tolerate the presence of consequentialist salvific exclusivists. To do so the liberal state needs to ensure that the consequentialist salvific exclusivist will judge that she is more likely to be able to make converts by non-coercive means than she is by attempting to overthrow the state so as to enable the use of non-coercive means.

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