• CSU
  • University of Melbourne


Technologies Program:

    This program deals with risks and responsibilities relating to research into technologies that combine with or add to existing technologies, including ethical issues in bio/nanotechnology, computing and IT.

Poverty Program:

    This program focuses on building an ethically and empirically based account of what development is, what standards it ought to use, and the like. Issues addressed include the measurement of poverty and global minimal labour standards.

Health Program:

    This program will conduct research in relation to a range of interconnected ethical issues in the public health domain.

Ecology Program:

    This program examines a range of issues in environmental ethics, including ethical issues related to existing and potential anthropogenic climate change.

Economy Program:

    This program focuses on a number of central ethical issues arising in the economic sphere, including corporate responsibility and economic corruption.

Security Program:

    This program focuses on the ethical dimensions of a range of current domestic and international security problems, including ethical issues pertaining to terrorism, crime, and humanitarian intervention.


What's new in CAPPE publications?
View Publications, Click here


CAPPE Canberra Seminar

Wednesday April 02, 2014 at 5.15pm


Dr Daniel Halliday (University of Melbourne)

Egalitarianism and Consumption Tax More



Workshop on Philosophical Issues of Trust in Practice and Theory More

Past events



Upcoming Events




Click here for past events







Seminars In Canberra

The Centre has moved to the Barton CSU Campus. Seminars are held at CAPPE (Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics) Level 1, 10-12 Brisbane Avenue, Barton, ACT, 2600. Please contact Ian Sharpe: with any questions about directions or if you want to subscribe to our mailing list.

(These seminars will also be available by video link to Wagga Wagga campus , room 212, Marchant Hall for those who would like to participate from there.)

Next Canberra seminar:

Future Canberra seminars


Thursday May 01, 2014 5.15pm

Dr Daniel Halliday (University of Melbourne)

Egalitarianism and Consumption Tax


Consumption taxes are often used to dissuade citizens from purchasing products that cause negative health outcomes, such as tobacco and alcohol. Such taxes are often criticized on grounds that they discriminate against the poor: Consumption taxes are ‘regressive’, given that poorer persons are forced to pay a larger fraction of their income. This paper attempts to respond to this objection by noting, first, that it should be approached as one half of a dilemma: The apparently egalitarian concern about regressivity is countered by other egalitarian worries about the additional vulnerability of low-income groups to the harms resulting from the type of consumption being taxed. This calls for the redesign of consumption taxes rather than abolition. Further progress can be made by recognizing there are ways of taxing consumption other than the standard model of a sales tax that is typically assumed in these debates. One is to hypothecate the revenues from ways that aid the poor, mitigating the regressivity of the tax burden. Another is to replace sales taxes with licences or permits. Hypothecation and licensing can also be combined in ways that can eliminate regressivity altogether. This paper attempts to develop these ideas in more detail.


Wednesday April 02, 2014 5.15pm

Dr Thomas Dougherty (University of Sydney)

Imagining the Possibilities: The Moral Psychology of Informed Consent


Informed consent to a procedure must be based on a certain type of understanding. But what types of mental attitude does this understanding consist in? I argue against the "Justified Belief Account" that holds that the patient must have justified true beliefs concerning the procedure. In its place, I defend the "Imagination Account" that holds that the patient must imaginatively represent the procedure.


Tuesday March 18, 2014 5.15pm

Dr Rebecca Roache (Oxford)

Psychiatry’s Problem with Reductionism


Psychiatrists often contrast the biopsychosocial approach—according to which biological, psychological, and social perspectives are all important to understanding mental illness—with reductionism. However, what reduction in psychiatry might involve, what it entails for the biopsychosocial approach, and what its clinical implications might be, are questions that have not been satisfactorily addressed to date. On the contrary, psychiatrists’ discussions of reductionism have obscured, rather than elucidated, these issues. The aims of this paper are to consider some such discussions of reductionism, to disentangle and clarify some of the issues discussed, and to indicate how psychiatrists—particularly advocates of the biopsychosocial approach—might apply thought about reductionism usefully and productively.


Wednesday March 5, 2014 2.30 – 4.00pm, and 4.30 - 6.00 pm.

Prof. Julian Savulescu (Oxford)

On the moral obligation of parents to have the best child


I will consider three principles governing reproduction and enhancement: liberty, beneficence and the public interest. I will argue that we should not reproduction to chance and our abilities and disabilities to the natural lottery. Rather we should make choices based on reasons derived from these 3 principles.I will consider various objections that have been raised to these arguments.


Mr Chris Gyngell (ANU)


On government/state obligations in respect of regulating access to enhancement technologies



Selection against genes which predispose individuals to develop disabilities is one of the least controversial uses of reproductive genetic technologies (RGTs). Many bio-conservatives, for example, argue that while interventions which enhance traits beyond what is typical of the species should be banned, therapeutic uses of reproductive technologies should be permitted. In this paper I argue the state may be justified in restricting access to reproductive technologies that allow selection against certain disabilities. I first outline the challenge given by proponents of 'liberal eugenics' who argue that access to certain reproductive technologies should not be restricted without a strong justification. Those who want to prevent people using RGTs to select against disability (or for any other purpose) need to show why their use would create a harm of the type and magnitude required to justify social coercion. I show many of the common criticisms of selection against disability fail to meet this standard. I then outline some more promising responses to the liberal eugenic challenge that suggest screening against some specific disabilities may legitimately be restricted by the state. Finally I explore the implications of this argument for the regulation of RGTs more generally.


Thursday February 20  5:15 pm, Wagga Wagga Campus

Prof. Ingmar Persson (Oxford & Gothenburg)

Moral Responsibility without Causation



(This seminar will also be available by video link at CAPPE’s Canberra offices, 10 Brisbane Avenue, Barton 2600, for those who’d like to participate from here.)


In contrast to many philosophers who believe that there’s a very tight link between moral responsibility and causation, I argue in my book From Morality to the End of Reason (OUP, 2013) that what we are basically responsible for – that is, what we’re responsible for without being responsible for it in virtue of being responsible for something else – doesn’t involve causation. The role of causation in responsibility is rather to extend responsibility from what we are directly responsible. To substantiate this claim, I’ll look at cases when we don’t achieve what we try or believe we’ll achieve, some cases of collective action, and cases of letting happen by omitting or refraining from action.

Future Seminars In Canberra


Wednesday, 2nd April, 5.15pm

Speaker: Dr Tom Dougherty (Sydney)

Topic: TBA

Location: CAPPE (CSU), 10-12 Brisbane Avenue, Barton ACT 2600.

(This seminar will also be available via video link at CSU, Wagga.)


Monday, 7th April, 5.15pm
Speaker: Prof. John Kleinig (CAPPE, CSU)
Topic: “Drones, Distance and Death”
Location: CAPPE (CSU), 10-12 Brisbane Avenue, Barton ACT 2600.

Thursday 1st May, 5.15pm

Speaker: Dr Daniel Halliday (Melbourne)

Topic: TBA

Location: CAPPE (CSU), 10-12 Brisbane Avenue, Barton ACT 2600.

(This seminar will also be available via video link at CSU, Wagga.)


 Saturday, 19th July.

Joint CAPPE/ Philosophy (CSU workshop.

Main speaker:  Prof Jeff McMahan (Rutgers).

Topic: The Ethics of Procreation

Location: CSU, Wagga. 

Participants should register for the workshop in advance. (Please register by contacting Dr Daniel Cohen before 15th July 2014.)

The workshop will be based on pre-circulated material that participants will be expected to have read in advance.


Previous Seminars in Canberra









Seminars In Melbourne

The Centre presents regular seminars at the University of Melbourne. Seminars will normally be held on Wednesdays at 2:15pm to 4pm. For details of the next seminar and its location, click here.

Enquiries to Sagar Sanyal or 61 3 9035 3642

If you wish to receive notification of forthcoming CAPPE Seminars in Melbourne, you can send an email to with the text "subscribe cappe-broadcast Your First Name Your Last Name" in the BODY of the email and you will be added to our list automatically.

Seminars in Wagga Wagga

The Centre presents regular seminars on the Wagga Wagga campus of Charles Sturt University. These are held on Thursday at 5:15 pm in Room 212, Marchant Hall unless otherwise stated.


Click here for upcoming seminars.


Enquiries to Dr Daniel Cohen or +61 (02) 6933-2565 or

Dr Emma Rush or +61 (02) 6933-2777



Workshop on Philosophical Issues of Trust in Practice and Theory

G16 (Jim Potter Room), Old Physics Building, University of Melbourne, Grattan Street, Parkville. (November 28th, 2013 10:30am-6:30pm)


Prof. Suzanne Uniacke, Director, Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, Charles Sturt University.

Prof. Tony Coady, Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, University of Melbourne.

Dr. Karen Jones, Philosophy, University of Melbourne.

Click Here for more information