On the Sunday morning of 27 October, President Trump sent out a flurry of tweets, announcing to the world the death of one of the most hunted terrorists: ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The full detail of the assault is still emerging, as is expected with any covert operations. One thing is clear. The US and allies view al-Baghdadi’s killing as a positive news. I, however, think we should be cautious in uncritically celebrating his death. By this, I mean we should first assess this act of killing through a critical lens. In other words, we should ask: was this act of killing permissible?
Month: October 2019
“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).
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.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.