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

2011 SEMINARS

 

Canberra Seminars

2011

Wednesday 7th December: Nicholas Barry (LaTrobe), Coombs Building, Seminar Room D

Against the Option-Brute Distinction
Abstract:

This paper argues against the distinction between option luck and brute luck, which is central to most orthodox accounts of luck egalitarianism. The first half of the paper highlights a number of problems with the option-brute distinction, as it is commonly presented in the literature. It argues that some instances of option luck inequality are inconsistent with the underlying motivation of the luck egalitarian project, and that the option-brute distinction, at least on Dworkin's formulation, is insufficiently sensitive to the way background inequalities shape individual choices. Whilst G.A Cohen's more nuanced formulation overcomes the latter problem by focusing on the genuineness of choices, it does not avoid the first problem of non-compensable option luck. The second half of the paper sketches a theory of luck egalitarianism that avoids the problematic option-brute distinction by focusing more directly on the relationship between choices and outcomes, and it responds to a number of recent criticisms of this revised formulation of the theory from supporters and critics of the broader luck egalitarian project.

 

Wednesday 9th November: Robyn Eckersley (University of Melbourne), Coombs Building, Seminar Room C

The Ethics of Special Responsibilities in World Politics
Abstract:

The general maxim, made famous by the Spiderman films, that 'with great power comes great responsibility' has been used to justify the claiming of special responsibilities and special privileges by states with greater capabilities, such as Great Powers or a single superpower in the case of the US. Yet the maxim is also question begging and self-serving. This paper outlines an ethical basis for the assignment of special responsibilities in relation to global problems involving systemic risk (such as climate change, financial crises, and nuclear proliferation), with a particular focus on the needs of those who are most vulnerable to such risks. It is argued that special responsibilities ought to be assigned to those states and non-state actors with the relevant capability to make the biggest difference to alleviating the plight of those who are most vulnerable to particular global or trans-boundary risks, and who are therefore entirely or largely dependent on action or inaction by the capable agents. Vulnerability, dependency and relevant capabilities are therefore ethically co-related in the assignment of special responsibilities, although qualifications are necessary to account for differences in culpability and competing responsibilities among relevant capable agents. Special responsibilities provide a necessary supplement to general responsibilities in a deeply interdependent world characterised by both formal equality of states and inequality of material capability among both state and non-state actors.
    The presentation will draw on chapter 6 of a forthcoming co-authored book: M. Bukovansky, I. Clark, R. Eckersley, R. Price, C. Reus-Smit, and N. J. Wheeler, Special Responsibilities: Global Problems and American Power (Cambridge University Press, 2012)

 

Wednesday 2nd November: Gerhard Overland (CAPPE), Coombs Building, Seminar Room C

The Appeal To Cost
Abstract:

Suppose a person is under threat of harm through no fault of her own. Suppose also that you can intervene to ensure that the threatened person is not harmed. To justify not intervening, you can appeal to the cost to you of intervening. If you are an innocent bystander relative to the situation, you are in no way causally involved in the threatened person being under threat and you give rise to no relevant cost by being where you are. It is widely accepted that an innocent bystander is not required to take on very significant cost to protect the threatened person. As an innocent bystander, your appeal to cost has full weight. Taking a bystander as a benchmark, and granted that you are not at fault, what types of relation to the situation would discount your appeal to cost?
    One option is to say that nothing can reduce your appeal to cost as long as you are innocent. Only people who can be held morally responsible for exposing others to risk of harm, or who in some other way are morally responsible for the existence of a threat, should have their appeal to cost discounted. This would be a fairly restrictive view, and would only discount the appeal to cost of people who are in some way morally responsible for the situation, while leaving all other people who give rise to cost on a par with bystanders. In this paper I explore an alternative position, which holds that all innocent (and non-responsible) people who give rise to cost also have their appeal to cost discounted relative to that of a bystander.
    An innocent person can give rise to cost in a number of ways:
(i) by simply being where he is (obstructors);
(ii) by being an essential part of a complete causal process that is about to harm another person (threats); and/or
(iii) by performing an action that is relevant in placing the person under threat (those who enable or do harm).
I argue that all these ways of giving rise to cost reduce a person's appeal to cost. But his appeal to cost does not appear to be discounted equally much in all these cases. While it may be difficult to sort out all factors that reduce an innocent person's appeal to cost, I suggest that one important element seems to be that a person's appeal to cost is discounted in inverse proportion to the cost to him of making sure that he does not give rise to cost in the first place.

 

Wednesday 26th October: Andrew Alexandra (Melbourne), Coombs Building, Seminar Room C

War and Other Emergencies
Abstract:

Following Walzer, most recent discussions of the morality of war accept the 'domestic analogy', according to which the standards which apply to us in our ordinary interpersonal dealings should also hold in war. I argue that the analogy does not hold because war is a type of emergency situation. Such situations impose pragmatic constraints on norms guiding the behaviour of those involved in them, such as the need for simplicity and publicity. In the light of these constraints, current norms of war which are problematic for the domestic analogy, such as the immunity to attack of (even morally culpable) civilians, and the equal liability to attack of combatants on both just and unjust sides, appear more reasonable.
 

 

Wednesday 12th October: Aleksandar Pavkovi, Coombs Building, Seminar Room C

Distributing states among 'peoples': what role can justice play?
Abstract:

All states are equal sovereign entities, at least in the eyes of the international law. Yet some 'peoples' are stateless: they have no state of 'their own' (i.e. a state which they control). Not all 'peoples' are equal, at least not in respect of state ownership.
    Is state ownership governed by a principle of justice? It is surprising to see how many theorists assume that it is or that it should be. Many theorists assume that the state is an intrinsic or at least an instrumental (moral) good and, hence, that its ownership should be governed by a principle of justice. In addition, many members of stateless groups believe that they have been unjustly denied a state (and some of them are ready to take action, often violent action, to remedy this alleged injustice). However, only normative theorists of secessions appear to have explicitly addressed the question: Which principle(s) should govern the distribution of state ownership?

    This paper will examine a few principles, including that of self-determination, that are put forward in an answer to the above question. Its aim is to explore the problems that any such principle may encounter if it were applied in a systematic manner in the present world of 'peoples'.

 

Wednesday 24th September: Adam Henschke (CSU) Coombs Building, Seminar Room C

Home Invasion: What Happens When ‘The Private’ Goes Public (?)
Abstract:

In this paper, I will be looking at issues to do with privacy and technology. I’m going to present a set of emerging informational technologies and will show how they challenge a common understanding of privacy. Further, I’ll show that Google, Facebook and the like have concluded that many informational technologies sound the death knell for privacy. The basic idea is that if you think that privacy is a something of moral importance, new information technologies present a moral challenge.
    I’ll respond to this moral concern by pointing out that privacy is not actually dead, as privacy can refer to a range of concepts beyond common understandings of privacy. However, this leads to a larger problem – with this range of privacy concepts floating about, is there some principled way of selecting which one is correct? In response to this problem, I’m going to suggest that identity can be used as an organising concept to integrate the different privacy concepts. I will describe two related aspects of identity, the moral and practical. Finally, I’ll show how identity can provide a normative foundation for many privacy concerns, and that identity presents a way of dealing with the moral concerns in a practical manner. 

 

Wednesday 21st September: Ed Spence (CSU) Coombs Building, Seminar Room C

The Theatre of Philosophy
Abstract:

Blaise Pascal said that "the heart has its own reasons that reason does not know". I extend the metaphor by adding that reason has its won passion. That is probably what Pascal meant by that phrase: that reason and passion are not opposites but integrated parts of a unified mind. The Philosophy Plays Project is an attempt to bring together reason and passion, the cognitive and the affective, through the integrated medium of philosophy and drama.
    The objective of the philosophy plays is to introduce, promote, and develop philosophy in the public domain. To this end the Philosophy Plays Project aims at making philosophy, and especially Western Philosophy, accessible to the general public and render philosophy accessible to people who would otherwise not have access to it. This paper will explain and demonstrate the theoretical rationale and methodology of the Philosophy Plays Project as a way of doing public philosophy.

 

Wednesday 14th September: Christian Berry (ANU)  Coombs Building, Seminar Room C

Wrongdoing, Benefits, and Rights
Abstract:

When an innocent person receives things as the result of another person's wrongdoing they ordinarily must disgorge them. If a stolen bicycle is given to Sue as a gift, or a case of wine is diverted to her doorstep by her neighbour's enemy, she must give them back. And she must give them up even if she cannot (for whatever reason) give them back. But one must not always disgorge benefits which arise as a consequence of wrongdoing, even when the wrongdoing was very serious and the benefits very large. If John enters a pub to get out of the way of a terrorist bomb blast and happens upon a life-changing business opportunity or meets the romantic partner of his dreams, he needn't disgorge these gains or offer additional compensation to the victims of the attack. But how, exactly, can we distinguish between benefits that are merely a consequence of wrongdoing and which we can keep from those that we must disgorge? This paper-an upshot of evolving joint work on these topics with Holly Lawford-Smith and Robert Goodin-tries to make some headway in addressing this question.

 

Wednesday 7th September: John Hadley  Coombs Building, Seminar Room C

Mention of Animal Laboratory Use in Public Communication: Making Good of the Nexus Between Biomedical Research, Animal Ethics, and the Media
Abstract:

    In this paper I make an argument for the wider propagation of animal use data. At present, animal use data is collected by animal researchers and passed on to regulatory authorities who then publish the data in voluminous annual report style documents. The problem with this process as a means of public communication is that these documents are only likely to be viewed by partisans in the animal research debate. The vast majority of citizens who have a public interest in the issue remain ignorant of how their taxes and donations may impact upon animals.

    My suggestion for reform makes strategic use of the relationship between researchers and the communications practitioners who report on or promote animal based biomedical research. I argue that when researchers speak to journalists or public relations practitioners about the results of their research protocols, they have an obligation to disclose details about their use of animals, specifically, the numbers of animals they used and the physiological challenges the animals may have endured. For their part, communications practitioners are likewise required to include details of animal use in any subsequent narrative they prepare for publication.

    The wider propagation of animal use data is consistent with the spirit of prevailing institutional self-regulatory animal welfare norms and the recent call by bioethicists for medical journal submission guidelines to be reformed along similar lines. An obligation to disclose also finds support in Millian free speech ideals, journalistic norms mandating balanced reporting, and dialogic ethical principles in the public relations field. I defend the requirement to disclose against major objections, such as that it will expose researchers to extremist violence and lead to a downturn in public support for vital medical research.

 

Wednesday 31st of August: Nick Evans (ANU) Coombs Building, Seminar Room C

Open Source, Freedom of Speech and Biosecurity
Abstract:

The so-called "open-source" model of information sharing allows for free exchange of ideas and collective knowledge bases to facilitate rapid progress in technology and science.  This model of information sharing, with its origins in software engineering, has recently experienced a surge of popularity through its applications in "open governance'' and synthetic biology (paradigmatically the BioBricks Foundation); both using the open-source model as a basis for pursuing projects.  However, there have been concerns raised that this type of radical openness may give rise to problematic security and ethical issues.

    This paper seeks to accomplish three goals.  The first is exploratory-I give an outline of the open-source model of information sharing, how open-source communities evolve, and the challenges such groups encounter in achieving their ends.   Particularly, I am interested in how open-source communities promote individual autonomy while maintaining an integral group telos.

    I then comment on the ethical claims open-source groups typically make about regulation and freedom of speech.  Of particular interest is the approach taken by open-source movements regarding the ethics of access and distribution of information.  Open-source movements tend not only to claim the right to free speech in a conventional negative sense; some also actively promote radical openness and radical deskilling, that is the mandate to not only distribute but to lower access barriers to scientific and technical knowledge.

    Finally, I take this analysis and apply it to recent developments in the life sciences, particularly those in biology.  Using a comparison between the evolution of software engineering and the life sciences, I argue that open-source models applied to other venues create ethical tensions when the ends of research are contested or not clearly defined.  This tension gives rise to problem such as the dual-use dilemma; when benignly intended research has the possibility to be used for both significant benefit or harm to individuals and groups.  I will conclude with a comment on how these tensions might be navigated, so that the aims of open-source movements in the life sciences can be squared with legitimate security and safety concerns.

 

Wednesday 24th of August: Ram Manikkalingam (Dialogue Advisory Group & University of Amsterdam) Coombs Building, Seminar Room C

Promoting Peace and Protecting Rights: How are Human Rights Good and Bad for Resolving Conflict?
Abstract:

National and international actors seek to protect human rights and resolve conflict to improve conditions for civilians in internal conflict.  Practical efforts to protect human rights can be good for resolving conflict by advancing long term stability, identifying causes of conflict, identifying potential mechanisms for its resolution, protecting bridge builders in a divided society, providing a neutral standpoint for addressing contentious issues, and generating international support for a peace process.  Practical efforts to protect human rights can sometimes be bad for resolving conflict because raising human rights violations with belligerents can distance them from a mediator, there is an asymmetry of violations between a state and an armed group, belligerents can see human rights as reducing their control over populations, human rights are perceived as inflexible, human rights are viewed as western, and those who have committed war crimes may seek to avoid punishment.  When there is a tension between the two in a situation of conflict, human rights activists may give priority to protecting rights, while mediators may give priority to resolving conflicts.  Nevertheless, tensions between resolving conflict and protecting human rights are not inevitable. 

 

Wednesday 17th of August: Jonathan Herington (ANU) Coombs Building, Seminar Room C

Security and Essential Contestability
Abstract

There is a consensus with political science and law that "security" is an essentially contested concept. This consensus is based upon the diversity of accounts (such as national security, human security, ontological security etc.) which are all said to compete over the proper definition of "security". This paper examines the claim that security is essentially contested, and argues for a more nuanced view. I open with a reconsideration of the literature on contested and essentially contestable concepts, hoping to uncover nuance which has yet to be applied to the concepts of security. I argue that "security" should be understood as a homonym which is used to denote three distinct (though related) concepts: security as a practice (SP), security as a state of being (SB) and security as a relation (SR). I focus on SB and argue that many purported conceptions of SB (human security, national security etc) should instead be viewed as instances of SB (SB for individuals, SB for states etc.) which do not contest a shared concept. Instead, I suggest that if there is an essentially contestable component to the word "security" then it is the contest between different conceptions of these instances (national security as territorial integrity, national security as freedom from foreign domination etc.). Finally, I argue that the "common core" of these instances is the deployment of a shared and uncontested concept of SR. Relatively little work has been done on describing the concept and value of SR, and I give a preliminary sketch of what such a research agenda would entail.

 

 

Wednesday 10th of August: Leif Wenar (King's College, London) Coombs Building, Seminar Room C

Clean Trade in Natural Resources
Abstract:

Countries that gain a significant proportion of their revenues from exporting natural resources such as oil, gas, metals and gems are at higher risk for authoritarian governance, corruption, civil conflict and slower growth. The talk explains how familiar policies of resource-importing states drive these resource curses, and describes an alternative policy framework.

 

Wednesday 3rd of August: David Wiens (ANU) Coombs Building, Seminar Room C

The Statist Implications of Cosmopolitan Commitments
Abstract:

Moral cosmopolitans are committed to the claim that all human beings hold equal status as the fundamental units of moral concern and should thus be extended equal concern and respect by all other human beings. 

    Cosmopolitans often argue that this claim implies a cosmopolitan institutional scheme; that is, institutional arrangements that include at least some supra-state institutions that have global jurisdiction with respect to some issues and are granted authority to legitimately constrain the activity of states in pursuing those objectives in service of cosmopolitan objectives. Contrary to this, I argue that cosmopolitan moral commitments have important statist institutional implications. In general, this is a familiar refrain; e.g., Blakee (2001) and Sangiovanni (2007) argue that cosmopolitan moral commitments entail limiting the scope of distributive justice to states, while Goodin (1988) and Ypi (2008) argue that certain instrumental considerations imply that cosmopolitan moral objectives are most effectively realized by a system of states. Diverging from extant offerings, I argue instead that cosmopolitan institutional arrangements are self-defeating in certain important cases. Successful economic and political development occurs when a state's institutions restrain rulers' from predatory behaviour and compel them to provide public goods, such as rule of law, public infrastructure, and investment in human capital. Extending work by, among others, Bates and Lien (1985) and Tilly (1990), I argue that this occurs wherever two conditions are met: first, state rulers depend on the cooperation of some citizens to pursue the former's objectives (e.g., to remain in office); second, the citizens on whose cooperation the ruler depends have credible "exit options", that is, they can withhold their cooperation without making themselves worse off than they would be were they to cooperate with the ruler. Given this explanation of development, I argue that certain cosmopolitan arrangements undermine rulers' dependence on citizens -- thus stifling successful development-- whereas preserving a system of sovereign states maintains these conditions. This is significant because successful development is the most effective means for actually realizing the cosmopolitan's objective, viz., to protect people's rights and increase their well- being. The upshot is that those who hold cosmopolitan moral commitments should endorse a system of states for pragmatic reasons.

 

Wednesday 27th of July: Luara Ferracioli (ANU) Coombs Building, Seminar Room C

Morality in Migration: Duties of Inclusion and Exclusion
Abstract:
This paper focuses on two questions regarding the movement of persons 
across international borders: do states have a right to unilaterally 
control their borders, and if so, are migration arrangements simply 
immune to moral considerations? Against theorists like Joseph Carens 
and Arash Abizadeh, I answer the first question in the affirmative. 
However, I answer the second question in the negative.  More 
specifically, I argue that states have both a positive duty to include 
highly vulnerable persons whose situation can only be improved through 
immigration, and a negative duty to exclude prospective immigrants 
whose departure could be expected to contribute to severe deprivation 
in their countries of origin. Countries have a right to unilaterally 
control their borders, but their exercise of this right is morally 
constrained by these duties of inclusion and exclusion.

 

Wednesday 20th of July: Marilyn Friedman (CAPPE) Coombs Building, Seminar Room C

Title: Dependence, Disability, and Liberal Citizenship
Abstract:

Some feminists have recently challenged the view that independence is a desirable or possible moral status. They have also argued against liberal conceptions of citizenship that require citizen autonomy understood as independence. While these critiques have some merit, I argue that they go too far. When properly qualified, independence is both possible and desirable. I argue this point in two different spheres. First, in the realm of interpersonal relationships, independence (for example, of income and access to sources of information) remains an important means by which women can achieve gender justice. Second, in the realm of liberal theorizing, autonomy as independence of mind is an important criterion for the choice of political principles. This latter context, as Eva Kittay argues, does seem to exclude any role for the severely cognitively disabled. This is a problem that has to be solved even while retaining an emphasis on independence, and I make some suggestions toward this end.

 

Wednesday 13th of July: Steve Clarke (Oxford)

Title: The Neuroscience of Decision Making and Our Standards for Assessing Competence to Consent
Abstract

Rapid advances in neuroscience may enable us to identify the neural correlates of ordinary decision making. Such knowledge opens up the possibility of acquiring highly accurate information about people's competence to consent to medical procedures and to participate in clinical trials. Currently we are unable to determine competence to consent with accuracy and we make a number of unrealistic practical assumptions to deal with our ignorance. Here I argue that if we are able to detect competence to consent and if we are able to develop a reliable neural test of competence to consent, then these assumptions will have to be rejected. I also consider and reject three lines of argument that might be developed by a defender of the status quo in order to protect our current practices regarding judgments of competence in the face of the availability of information about the neural correlates of ordinary human decision making.

 

Wednesday 15th of June: Steven Vanderheiden (CAPPE)

Title: Climate Change and the Burdens of Leadership
Abstract

The 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, noting the wide historical and ongoing disparities in national responsibility for causing climate change, called upon developed countries to ‘take the lead’ in responding to its predicted hazards. This leadership burden came to be interpreted as entailing that only developed countries would assume binding greenhouse gas emissions limits under the 1997 Kyoto protocol, with developing countries exempted from mandatory caps through that treaty’s 2012 expiration. The United States, upon announcing its formal withdrawal from the Kyoto framework in 2001, expressly identified this allegedly unfair burden of leadership in justification of its defection, with the question of how to include developing countries in a post-Kyoto accord continuing to frustrate efforts to negotiate a successor treaty. My question in the talk takes this as background, and asks: What (if any) burdens of leadership follow from differential contribution to a collective hazard and/or differential capacity to mitigate it? Does leadership mean merely going first in assuming one’s fair share of remedial responsibilities, or does it also entail additional burdens beyond these shares (e.g. lack of assurance that others will follow, additional contributory burdens such as startup costs for nascent regulatory regimes, expenditure of political capital or assumption of political and economic risks of failure to cooperate, etc.)? In the talk, I shall explore the idea of ‘moral courage’, or the claim that leadership is in its essence reliant upon a power resource that involves risk-taking in pursuit of moral ends, where actions by moral leaders are necessary precursors to cooperation in securing certain kinds of collective goods. I shall also briefly explore how such courage might manifest in a successful international climate policy effort.


Wednesday 1st of June: Seumas Miller (CAPPE)

Title: Joint Actions, Social Institutions, and Collective Goods
Abstract

In this paper I will offer a teleological normative theory of social institutions which is based on an individualist theory of joint action. Put simply, on this account social institutions are organisations or systems of organisations that provide collective goods by means of joint activity. The collective goods in question include the fulfilment of aggregated moral rights, such as needs based rights for security (police organisations), material well-being (businesses operating in markets), education (universities), governance (governments) and so on.

 

Wednesday 25th of May: Garrett Cullity (Adelaide)

Title: Normative Derivations
Abstract

Some normative judgements about action and feeling derive their justification from other, more fundamental ones. What are the forms that these derivations can take, what explains why they take these forms, and where should we expect them to terminate? I offer an answer to these questions, outlining a taxonomy of forms of normative derivation, and proposing an explanation of why these are the possible forms.

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Wednesday 18th of May: John Kleinig

Title: The Magic of 'My'
Abstract

It is the most common thing in the world for a person to decide that he should (or should not) do so-and-so on grounds of loyalty to his friend, family, organization, community, country, or species. Indeed, it is likely that loyalties ground more of the principled, self- sacrificing, and other kinds of nonselfish behavior in which people engage than do moral principles and ideals. (Andrew Oldenquist) What magic is there in the pronoun “my,” that should justify us in overturning the decisions of impartial truth? (William Godwin) Andrew Oldenquist juxtaposes the partial obligations of loyalty with a universalized morality of principles and ideals and argues for the moral primacy of the former. That is a minority view. But it raises questions about the nature of partial – or as I refer to them – particularistic obligations and their relations to general moral obligations. The paper is taken from the draft chapter of (I hope) a forthcoming book on Loyalty and Loyalties. I canvas a range of possible ways of dealing with the tension between particularistic and universalistic obligations before arguing for the sui generis character of the former.

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Wednesday 11th of May: Ned Dobos

Title: Are There Any ‘Merely Permissible’ Humanitarian Interventions?
Abstract

In recent years there has been some movement away from the view that humanitarian intervention – where it is morally legitimate – can be strictly optional. There is a growing consensus that all justified interventions are morally obligatory. Call this the all-or-nothing view. I will argue that even in the face of the most severe human rights abuses, the citizens of even the most affluent countries do not always have an obligation to sustain the costs associated with carrying out an armed humanitarian intervention. This becomes apparent once we fully appreciate two facts about positive duties: 1) They are presumptively imperfect - how and when they are discharged is a matter of individual discretion; 2) They are qualified by a high cost proviso, such that they need not be fulfilled if this would involve sustaining too high a cost. At this level the moral space reserved for “merely permissible” humanitarian wars cannot be closed. But arguably, “merely permissible” for the citizenry translates into either obligatory or prohibited for the state. This may seem paradoxical, if not incoherent, but here I will argue that whether the all-or-nothing view is plausible depends on who we take its referent to be – the state, or its people.

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Wednesday 4th of May: Tom Campbell and Laura Cabrera(Charles Sturt)

Title: The Weak Moral Basis for Restrictive Regulation of Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis
Abstract

This paper points to some weaknesses in the reasoning commonly used to support narrow and restrictive regulative control of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). It sets out a presumptive case for broad parental reproductive rights with respect to PGD along the lines that prospective parents should be free to take such steps as they think fit to have what they regard as healthy and capable children, provided this does not cause undeniable harm to these children or to other people which is sufficiently serious to outweigh the presumptive case for parental freedom. We discuss some of the counter arguments to this ‘liberal’ position, arguing that they are too weak to overcome the strong case for parental freedom with respect to PGD. A principal theme in our analysis is that moral considerations, which may reasonably be taken into account, are erroneously used to make a case for legal restrictions which are based on no more than personal moral preferences, anxieties or dislikes.

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Wednesday 27th of April: Emma Rush (Charles Sturt)

Title: The ethics of complementary medicine
Abstract

Complementary medicine includes naturopathy and other herbal therapies, massage-based practices, traditional systems of medicine (e.g., Chinese medicine), and a range of other health care modalities such as homeopathy, Bowen therapy, and so on. In contrast with conventional medicine, which is grounded in rigorous scientific studies, complementary medicine is not evidence-based. Nonetheless, it is recognised to be a “boom” industry across the industrialised world (for example, in Australia it is worth around $2 billion per annum). This sets the scene for a complex range of ethical questions that are both related to and distinct from the questions arising within conventional medical practice. This paper will introduce and discuss some major ethical questions in the area of complementary medicine. It is a ‘work in progress’, based on an ethics subject I am currently developing for the Bachelor of Health Science (Complementary Medicine) offered by Charles Sturt University. This is an upgrading course for health professionals practising in the area of complementary medicine.

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Wednesday 20th of April: Peter Simmons (Charles Sturt-Bathurst)

Title: Fair call - lessons about communicating fairness from football referees
Abstract

The 'fair process effect' says that people tend to behave more cooperatively and prosocially when they perceive fairness in a situation, and less cooperatively when they perceive unfairness (Van den Bos, Burrows, Unphress, Folger, Lavelle, Eaglestone, & Gee, 2005). According to Bies (2005) people are hardwired to react to injustice, and scholars have stressed the potential benefits of understanding the way people form perceptions of fairness in a range of contexts including policing (Anderson and Giles, 2005), sport refereeing (Simmons, 2010), management (Patient and Skarlicki, 2010) and teaching (Gordon & Fay, 2010). Organisational justice scholars generally accept that the perception of fairness is influenced simultaneously by the distribution or outcome of a decision (distributive justice), the processes used to arrive at the decision (procedural justice) and the interpersonal treatment experienced with decision makers (interactional justice).
This presentation will examine the way people communicate fairness in decisions, using soccer referees as a case study and models developed from studies in organisational justice. The implications for training decision-makers and authority figures will be discussed.

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Wednesday 13th of April: Jeanette Kennett and Steve Matthews (Macquarie)

Title: Truth, Lies, and the Narrative Self
Abstract

What is the role and normative value of truth in narrative self-construction? We explore this question through examination of cases in which persons have concocted elaborate false narratives about themselves which are accepted by their social circle, including their nearest and dearest. We describe two such cases, one involving a man who lied about being a World War II prisoner of war, another involving the extraordinary and infamous case of Jean-Claude Romand who for twenty years convinced his family and friends he was a medical researcher with the WHO. These cases point to the importance of truth-tracking, truth-making and, in particular, truth-sharing in self-narrative.

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Wednesday 6th of April: Laura Valentini (Oxford)

Title: Human Rights: A Freedom-Centered View
Abstract

In this paper, I develop a Kant-inspired liberal theory of human rights: the freedom-centered view. On this view, human rights are guarantees each state must secure to implement its citizens¹ innate right to freedom. When a state protects human rights, it reasonably qualifies as a moral agent to be treated with respect; when it does not, it loses its moral status and becomes liable to both internal and external interference. I argue that this view satisfies three important theoretical desiderata ­ explanatory power, functional specificity, and critical capacity ­ and steers a middle course between so-called natural law and political approaches to human rights.

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Wednesday 30th of March: John Kleinig and Nick Evans

Title: Human Flourishing and Human Dignity
Abstract

Our paper attempts to sketch some connections between human flourishing and human dignity and links them to criminal law via the notion of human rights. Human flourishing and human dignity have traditionally been associated with Aristotle and Kant and they have developed either in parallel or as exclusive options. Although our paper does not claim to be an exercise in Aristotelian or Kantian scholarship – or an attempt to trace Kantian themes in Aristotle or Aristotelian themes in Kant – it is our view that, despite differences between the (broadly construed) metaphors of flourishing and dignity, they capture important complementary facets of human self-understanding and link usefully with notions of human rights and the focus of the larger project to which this paper is attached, criminal law. Our basic contention is that the metaphor of flourishing provides an illuminating aspirational framework for thinking about human development and obligations, and that a further metaphor – that of human dignity can be appealed to as a critical element within that discussion. We go on to claim that conceptions of human dignity and human flourishing underpin and inform the employment of a third metaphor, that of human rights, and that it is the protection and securing of such rights that lies at the heart of criminal law.

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Wednesday 23th of March: Doris Schroeder

Title: Human Rights and Human Dignity: An Appeal to Separate the Conjoined Twins
Abstract

Human rights are not uncontroversial. Why should all human beings have certain rights simply by virtue of being human? A right to life, for instance, that limits abortion? One possible justification for such rights is an appeal to religious authority: human beings have a right to life because of the word of God. However, in secular or multicultural societies this justification can be meaningless.
The prevailing answer in constitutional and international law is that human rights are founded on human dignity. For instance, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights begins by recognising "the inherent dignity … of all members of the human family" and links the "worth of the human person" to inalienable rights.
In this paper, I shall argue that human rights and human dignity are uncomfortable bedfellows for the following reasons:
1. The Justification Paradox
The concept of human dignity does not solve the justification problem for human rights but rather worsens it in secular and multicultural societies. Without reference to religious authority, it is much more difficult to justify that all human beings have inherent dignity than to justify that all human beings have human rights.
2. The Kantian Cul-de-Sac
The supposed solution to the justification vacuum in secular societies is Immanuel Kant's (1724-1804) concept of dignity. However, Kant has to deny dignity to those who will never have any capacity for moral self-legislation, an implication which most Kantian moral philosophers and bioethicists shy away from. If human rights were based on Kant's concept of human dignity, and if human rights were founded solely on human dignity, such rights would lose their universal validity. Patients in a permanent vegetative state or severely brain-injured babies, taken as an example, would not be covered by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
3. Hazard By Association
Human dignity is more controversial than the concept of human rights. In particular the tension between aspirational dignity and inviolable dignity is unresolved in moral philosophy and bioethics. Those who want to strengthen universal human rights would do better to dissociate themselves from a concept that may require moral merit (e.g. the dignity of Nelson Mandela or Aung San Suu Kyi).
In conclusion, proponents of universal human rights are better off looking for alternative frameworks (such as pragmatism, discourse ethics or contractarian theory) to justify human rights rather than relying on the concept of dignity.

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Wednesday 16th of March: Gerhard Overland

Title: Giving Rise to Cost: On innocent bystanders, obstacles, obstructors, and threats, and the permissibility to harm them
Abstract

When a person is about to be harmed, other people may be completely innocent and non-responsible for the harm in question, but be related to it in significant ways all the same. Through their movements and location in space, they may give rise to cost in at least three different ways. They may be: 1) threats insofar as their bodies constitute the very objects that create the danger of harm in the first place; 2) physical obstructors when they block and obstruct the person’s escape route, and; 3) moral obstacles when their mere presence renders the person under threat unable to proceed with a defensive action without harming them. In this paper I argue that even though (innocent and non-responsible) people give rise to cost due to circumstances outside their control, and despite that they have engaged in no action to this effect, the way in which people are related to a particular threat of harm by giving rise to cost makes a difference to the permissible amount of force that can be used against them to avert the threat. Moreover, when a certain cost is imposed upon another person because that person is related to the initial threat by giving rise to cost in one of the three ways mentioned above, he is not wronged when the cost is imposed on him, and he has no right to prevent the imposition of such cost if that means that all cost would fall upon the potential victim.

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Wednesday 9th of March: Thomas Pogge

Title: Allowing the Poor to Share the Earth
Abstract

Two of the greatest challenges facing humanity are environmental degradation and the persistence of poverty. Both can be met by instituting a Global Resources Dividend (GRD) that would slow pollution and natural-resource depletion while raising funds for averting poverty worldwide. Unlike Hillel Steiner's Global Fund, which is presented as a fully just regime governing the use of planetary resources, the GRD is meant as merely a modest but realistic step toward justice. Paula Casal has set forth various ways in which this step might be improved upon. Solid counter-arguments can be given to her criticisms and suggestions. But to specify the best (effective and realizable) design of an appropriate global institutional mechanism with some confidence, economists, political scientists, jurists, environmental scientists, and activists would need to be drawn in to help think through the immense empirical and political complexities posed by the urgent task.
With Paula Casal and Hillel Steiner I agree that the world’s poor are currently excluded from a fair share of the wealth of our planet and that this exclusion constitutes a great injustice in view of all the suffering and premature deaths it causes.
Beyond this fundamental agreement lie a difference and disagreements. The difference, mainly with Steiner, is one of approach: while he is developing an ideal of fully just institutional arrangements governing the use of natural wealth, I am proposing, far more modestly, a relatively minor institutional reform that is politically achievable in the world as we know it and would go a long way toward protecting the poor. While he denies any special place to the institutional arrangements that happen to have evolved in human history, I am strongly focused upon these existing arrangements with an eye to designing a realistic and effective reform. In taking this approach, I am not holding that the status quo deserves any special moral standing. I am merely recognizing that, to make progress, we need to start from where we are. Whatever may be the ideally most just way of structuring the world economy; I am trying to map out a plausible first step in the right direction.
The disagreements are mainly with Casal. They can be reduced through a clearer understanding of the Global Resources Dividend (GRD) I have proposed. I will try to explain why I remain unconvinced with respect to the differences that remain.

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Wednesday 2nd of March: Anne Schwenkenbecher

Title: What are collective moral obligations?
Abstract

Most people agree that we have moral obligations as individuals towards other individuals. But what about obligations that groups of people (collectives) may have towards others? The paper explores the idea of collective moral obligations addressing questions such as: (1) How do collective obligations arise? ; (2) What kinds of collectives can hold moral obligations? ; (3) Who do collective duties attach to? (4) What implications do collective duties have for the members of the collective? I argue that problems of a global scale, such as climate change and global poverty require collective solutions and trigger collective moral obligations provided that (potentially) capable collective agents exist. Also I show that while members of unstructured collectives can have moral obligations to enable collective action and contribute to collective outcomes, only structured collectives can have collective obligations that attach to the collective as such. The latter imply contributory duties for their members. I will suggest three criteria for determining the magnitude of an individual agent's or sub-group's contributory duty to a collective duty: capacity, moral correlation, and commitments of oneself and other agents.

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Wednesday 23th of February: Thaddeus Metz

Title: What Grounds Human Rights? Dignity as Autonomy or as Community
Abstract

I seek to answer the question of which (dignity-based) moral theory best accounts for human rights. Most moral philosophers and jurists take human rights to follow from the Kantian principle of respect for autonomy (rationality), and I provide new reasons to doubt that view. I first address several uncontroversial instances of human rights violations that I maintain are not well captured in terms of the degradation of the capacity for autonomy (rationality), and then I articulate a new, African moral theory, according to which our communal nature is what gives us a dignity, that, I argue, does better at accounting for them.

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Wednesday 16th of February: Holly Lawford-Smith(CAPPE)

Title: Ought implies might actually?
Abstract

It ought to be that the procrastinating professor accept the task of reviewing a book, and actually review the book, but given that he won't review it, he ought not to accept . That is a genuine moral obligation in the light of less than perfect circumstances. I want to seriously entertain the possibility that a set of such obligations form something like a 'practical morality', that which we ought to do in light of the fact that we're unlikely or unwilling to do much of what ideal morality demands. If it is possible to give a coherent account of these kinds of obligations, then it is possible to entertain the idea that these obligations are in fact what morality demands. The conceptual truths about justice (good, right, fairness) that come from truths about ideals are one thing; the actions that morality demands of people given their actual circumstances are quite another. In this paper I will ask about the kinds of facts that can establish a more circumscribed set of obligations than we get from the standard story about moral obligation.

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Wednesday 9th of February: Jeremy Shearmur(ANU)

Title: Titmuss, Blood and Community
Abstract

Richard Titmuss’s The Gift Relationship (1970) offered a complex argument for the superiority of a donor-based system for the provision of blood (like that in the UK or Australia), over the system that then existed in the US. This combined a donor-based sector, with a small but growing for profit sector, while the then most significant form of provision combined donation for insurance and blood replacement requirements for those not covered by insurance. Titmuss’s work made a considerable impact, both in practical terms (it was one of the factors that led towards the US adopting a donor-based system), and also on the work of philosophers. Titmuss’s own argument had many strands, including efficiency, the provision of a better blood supply (where he raised an adverse selection problem), and also considerations of the meaning of blood donation, and its significance for community. Since Titmuss wrote, his case has badly eroded. His efficiency-based arguments seem to be false or misleading. Experience with other diseases and with commercial plasmapheresis suggests that his case for better blood depended on contingent particularities of the arrangements that existed at the time at which he wrote. As a result, his most recent defender, David Archard, argued for Titmuss only on the basis of issues relating to the meaning of donation, and of community. These, however, turn out to be complex – because of problems related to different notions of community, and the kind of community that can be sustained in societies like our own – and, I will suggest, less telling than Titmuss and his allies believed. All told, it seems to me that while there is nothing wrong with the supply of blood through the use of Titmussian donors if, indeed, it delivers the goods, the widely-shared view that they have to play a role is simply mistaken. While an attraction to Titmussian notions may not do much harm (other than in respect of the under-provision of plasma-based products) in respect to the Australian blood supply, the Titmussian ethos may be highly problematic elsewhere (e.g. in respect of its leading people to reject the commercial supply of kidneys). I believe that it is time that it was rejected.