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Event: Double St Cross Special Ethics Seminar – Thursday 4 June 2015

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On Thursday 4th June the Double St Cross Special Ethics Seminar took place.  Presenting were Dr Joshua Shepherd and Dr Mimi Zou.  Please see bellow for  abstracts and links to the podcasts of the talks.


Dr Joshua Shepherd (Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, University of Oxford)

Title: The moral insignificance of self-consciousness

Abstract:  Many share an intuition that self-consciousness is highly morally significant. Some hold that self-consciousness significantly enhances an entity’s moral status. Others hold that self-consciousness underwrites the attribution of so-called personhood (or full moral status) to self-conscious entities. I examine the claim that self-consciousness is highly morally significant, such that the fact that an entity is self-conscious generates strong moral reasons to treat that entity in certain ways (reasons that, for example, make killing such entities a very serious matter). I analyse four arguments in support of such a claim, and find all four wanting. We lack good reasons to think self-consciousness is highly morally significant.


Dr Mimi Zou (Faculty of Law, The Chinese University of Hong Kong)

Title: The ‘New’ Guestworker? Rethinking the Ethics of Temporary Labour Migration Programme

Abstract: At the beginning of the 21st century, temporary labour migration programmes (TLMP) have (re)emerged and expanded in a number of advanced industrialised countries. TLMPs are not a new phenomenon, with the use of large-scale guestworker schemes in Western Europe and the United States during the 1950s-1960s. Advocates of contemporary TLMPs argue that ‘carefully designed’ schemes can deliver ‘triple wins’ for host countries, home countries and migrants and their families. Yet, the case for these ‘new and improved’ TLMPs is not without critics, who maintain that these schemes continue to have highly exploitative elements built into them. My talk probes into the ethical landscape of contemporary TLMPs in liberal democratic states. I examine the various attempts to justify the array of restrictions on migrants’ employment and social rights under TLMPs. In particular, I provide a critique of a relatively influential argument that has emerged in recent years, which puts forward a purported trade-off between the numbers of migrants admitted and the rights granted to them.



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