Justice Everywhere

a blog about philosophy in public affairs

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The Women Men Don’t Hear

“The female lead never stands out”, Rosalind Franklin’s character bitterly remarks in Anna Ziegler’s play, Photo 51, right before the curtain drops. With the unlikely topic of the first image of human DNA as its central theme – an image captured by Franklin and illegitimately acquired by Watson and Crick to develop their famous DNA model – the play is a brilliant depiction of the various levels at which sexism in science operates. One such level, of diminishing or erasing women’s contributions, was recently instantiated by a series of newspaper headings referring to Esther Duflo, a co-recipient of this year’s Nobel Prize in Economics, solely as the wife of another recipient, Abhijit Banerjee, sometimes without even mentioning her name (here and here).

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Call for Applications: Stanford Center for Ethics Postdoctoral Fellowships

Applications are now open for several Postdoctoral Fellows at the McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society, Stanford University. The application deadline is 9th December 2019. Below is the call: 

“For 2020-21, the McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society seeks to appoint up to two postdoctoral fellows. Selected fellows will be designated as either General Ethics Fellows or Interdisciplinary Ethics Fellows. The two types of fellows have some distinct training opportunities and responsibilities, but they form a common community at the Center and participate together in the Center’s intellectual life. The programs are described in detail below. All applicants will be considered for both types of fellowships and do not need to tailor their application for one or the other fellowship.

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The Farewell: What You Don’t Know Can’t Hurt You?

In this post, guest contributor Laura Specker Sullivan discusses the cross-cultural ethics at the heart of the recent film, The Farewell.  

Lulu Wang’s 2019 film The Farewell revolves around an actual lie: when Wang’s grandmother was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer, her family agreed that she ought not be told. For Wang, who grew in the United States but had been born and lived in China for several years, this came as a shock. As the character representing Wang, Billi, says at one point, what if her grandmother has things she wants to do? What if she needs to make plans?

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Private Wrongs and Public Resignations

Public officials are often called to resign their posts if they commit grave moral or legal wrongs as private persons. Consider a few cases. It is discovered that a Minister of Education had plagiarized multiple parts of his academic work before taking up his position in the government. Another high official is caught expressing bigoted ideas against ethnic and religious minorities in personal Facebook comments and posts. A county prefect is charged for beating his wife. Should such acts call for resignations? Can they ground the decisions of political bosses to sack these individuals, or justify the general public in exerting pressures on the government to drive them out of office?

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Response: Against a Second Referendum

This is a guest post by Adelin Dumitru, responding to a recent post by Anh Le, “In Defence of a Second Referendum“. 

In a recent Justice Everywhere contribution Anh Le argues that a second referendum should be organised in the United Kingdom, in order to present voters with more options than the Leave–Remain dichotomous choice. Although the other variants mentioned by Le, such as a Norway plus model, would overall be better for the UK citizens as well as for the rest of the European Union, dismissing the outcome of the first referendum would be problematic for two distinct reasons – one pragmatic, one moral.

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My pension fund, my conscience

In some situations, society permits individual citizens to not fulfil otherwise binding requirements when the latter conflict with the individual’s deeply held ethical convictions. The classic example are pacifists who obtain an exemption from military service. I submit that an argument along these lines also applies to collective pension plans. Such plans need to offer their participants a minimal level of influence over their portfolios to be legitimate.

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Child Poverty through Philosophers’ Eyes

In this post, Justice Everywhere’s Nicolás Brando and his co-editor Gottfried Schweiger introduce their recently-published collection on philosophy and child poverty.

Philosophy and Child Poverty: Reflections on the Ethics and Politics of Poor Children and their Families (2019) is the first full volume to address child poverty from a philosophical perspective. It brings together contributions from a plurality of philosophical approaches, providing an ample exploration into the conceptual, ontological, normative and applied questions that arise when looking at child poverty as a philosophical subject.

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Compulsory voting and same-sex marriage referendums

Electoral turnout is declining. In the past three decades, the average turnout for legislative elections has registered a sharp drop, of about 10% at the global level, a drop which spans across all continents and among both established and emerging democracies. If we find this trend to be concerning, there is one fairly simple mechanism that we could employ in order to reverse it: compulsory voting. In this post I argue that while it might be attractive at first sight, compulsory voting is, however, sometimes inimical to justice, drawing on the recent cases of same-sex marriage referendums held in several Eastern European countries.

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In Defence of a Second Referendum

The UK has been in the grip of a political crisis since 24 June, 2016 when the people voted to leave the European Union, ending an uneasy relationship lasting 43 years. PM David Cameron resigned the following morning, citing the need for new leadership to lead the country out of the EU. Since then, another PM, Theresa May, has resigned and her successor, current PM Boris Johnson, is nowhere nearer to solving the Brexit question than his predecessors. As the UK’s date of departure from the EU approaches, the sense of a political deadlock is palpable. In this post, I argue for the need to hold a second referendum on democratic grounds.

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What should I do about climate change and other global environmental problems?

In this post, Christian Baatz, Laura García-Portela and Lieske Voget-Kleschin present the special issue on questions related to individual environmental responsibility they recently published in Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics (JAGE).

Is it enough to lobby for climate change politics? Or do I need to limit my personal greenhouse gas emissions? While these questions seem like a non-starter for environmentally aware people, they are actually at the core of a broad ethical debate. The special issue tackles what individuals should do, when moral requests become overly demanding and if we need new ethical theory to adequately address these issues.

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