Announcements

Video Series: Dominic Wilkinson on Conscientious Objection in Healthcare

Associate Professor and Consultant Neonatologist Dominic Wilkinson (Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics) argues that medical doctors should not always listen to their own conscience and that often they should do what the patient requests, even when this conflicts with their own values.

Announcement: New Publication: Philosophers Take On the World

Philosophers Take on the World book cover

Philosophers Take On the World is based on this blog, ‘Practical Ethics in the News’, and edited by David Edmonds. It is published by OUP and is due out in September 2016.

Every day the news shows us provoking stories about what’s going on in the world, about events which raise moral questions and problems. In Philosophers Take On the World a team of philosophers get to grips with a variety of these controversial issues, from the amusing to the shocking, in short, engaging, often controversial pieces. Covering topics from guns to abortion, the morality of drinking alone, hating a sports team, and being rude to cold callers, the essays will make you think again about the judgments we make on a daily basis and the ways in which we choose to conduct our lives.

This item is not yet published, but may be pre-ordered now for delivery when available.

https://global.oup.com/academic/product/philosophers-take-on-the-world-9780198753728?cc=gb&lang=en&#

Published: 01 September 2016 (Estimated)

ISBN: 9780198753728

Announcement: Winners of the 2nd Annual Oxford Uehiro Prize in Practical Ethics.

It is with great pleasure that we can announce the winners of the Oxford Uehiro Prize in Practical Ethics 2016.

The joint winners of the Undergraduate Category are Carolina Flores Henrique, with her essay ‘Should feminists in rich countries shift their focus to international development?’ and Thomas Sittler with his essay ‘How should vegetarians actually live? A reply to Xavier Cohen’.

The winner of the Graduate Category is Joseph Bowen with his essay ‘Necessity and liability’.

The runner up in the Graduate Category is Benjamin Lange with his essay ‘Should you switch to an altruistic career?’

 

We wish congratulations to the five finalists for their excellent essays and presentations, and in particular to the winners of each category.  We also send congratulations to all entrants in this prize.

Naughty words What makes swear words so offensive? It’s not their meaning or even their sound. Is language itself a red herring here?

Dr Rebecca Roache, former Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics staff member, and lecturer at Royal Holloway, University of London, has recently published an essay on swearing in the online Aeon Magazine.  To read the full article and join in the conversation please follow this link: https://aeon.co/essays/where-does-swearing-get-its-power-and-how-should-we-use-it.  Dr Roache has previously spoken on this topic, as reported by Prof Roger Crisp on this blog.

 

Announcement: 2nd Annual Oxford Uehiro Prize in Practical Ethics: Finalists and Honourable Mentions

The 2nd Annual Oxford Uehiro Prize in Practical Ethics was announced on this blog on the 11th November 2015.  By the 25th January 2016 a large number of high quality essays had been submitted and the judges had a difficult time narrowing the field down to 5 finalists and 6 Honourable Mentions, which are now listed here. We are very pleased to announce that over the next few weeks we will be publishing the essays listed below in our Oxford Uehiro Prize in Practical Ethics series. Continue reading

Does the desire to punish have any place in modern justice?

Professor Neil Levy, visiting Leverhulme Lecturer, University of Oxford, has recently published a provocative essay at Aeon online magazine:

Human beings are a punitive species. Perhaps because we are social animals, and require the cooperation of others to achieve our goals, we are strongly disposed to punish those who take advantage of us. Those who ‘free-ride’, taking benefits to which they are not entitled, are subject to exclusion, the imposition of fines or harsher penalties. Wrongdoing arouses strong emotions in us, whether it is done to us, or to others. Our indignation and resentment have fuelled a dizzying variety of punitive practices – ostracism, branding, beheading, quartering, fining, and very many more. The details vary from place to place and time to culture but punishment has been a human universal, because it has been in our evolutionary interests. However, those evolutionary impulses are crude guides to how we should deal with offenders in contemporary society.

Our moral emotions fuel our impulses toward retribution. Retributivists believe that people should be punished because that’s what they deserve. Retributivism is not the only justification for punishment, of course. We also punish to deter others, to prevent the person offending again, and perhaps to rehabilitate the offender. But these consequentialist grounds alone cannot justify our current system of criminal justice. We want punishments to ‘fit the crime’ – the worse the crime, the worse the punishment – without regard for the evidence of whether it ‘works’, that is, without thinking about punishment in consequentialist terms.

See here for the full article, and to join in the conversation.

Professor Levy has also written on this topic in the Journal of Practical Ethics; Less Blame, Less Crime? The Practical Implications of Moral Responsibility Skepticism.

2nd Annual Oxford Uehiro Prize in Practical Ethics Finals Announcement

The 2nd Annual Oxford Uehiro Prize in Practical Ethics Final Presentation and Reception

HT16 Week 7, Wednesday 2nd March, 4.00 – 5.50 pm.

The Presentation will be held in Seminar Room 1, Oxford Martin School (corner of Catte St and Broad St), followed by a drinks reception in Seminar room 2 until 6.45 pm.

We are pleased to announce the five finalists for the Oxford Uehiro Prize in Practical Ethics and to invite you to attend the final where they will present their entries. Two finalists have been selected from the undergraduate category and three from the graduate, to present their ideas to an audience and respond to a short Q&A as the final round in the competition. Continue reading

Should vegans eat meat to be ethically consistent? And other moral puzzles from the latest issue of the Journal of Practical Ethics

Should vegans eat meat to be ethically consistent? And other moral puzzles from the latest issue of the Journal of Practical Ethics

By Brian D. Earp (@briandavidearp)

The latest issue of The Journal of Practical Ethics has just been published online, and it includes several fascinating essays (see the abstracts below). In this blog post, I’d like to draw attention to one of them in particular, because it seemed to me to be especially creative and because it was written by an undergraduate student! The essay – “How Should Vegans Live?” – is by Oxford student Xavier Cohen. I had the pleasure of meeting Xavier several months ago when he presented an earlier draft of his essay at a lively competition in Oxford: he and several others were finalists for the Oxford Uehiro Prize in Practical Ethics, for which I was honored to serve as one of the judges.

In a nutshell, Xavier argues that ethical vegans – that is, vegans who refrain from eating animal products specifically because they wish to reduce harm to animals – may actually be undermining their own aims. This is because, he argues, many vegans are so strict about the lifestyle they adopt (and often advocate) that they end up alienating people who might otherwise be willing to make less-drastic changes to their behavior that would promote animal welfare overall. Moreover, by focusing too narrowly on the issue of directly refraining from consuming animal products, vegans may fail to realize how other actions they take may be indirectly harming animals, perhaps even to a greater degree.

Continue reading

Announcement: Future of Humanity Institute advertises four research positions

The Future of Humanity Institute at the University of Oxford invites applications for four research positions. We seek outstanding applicants with backgrounds that could include computer science, mathematics, economics, technology policy, and/or philosophy.

The Future of Humanity Institute is a leading research centre in the University of Oxford looking at big-picture questions for human civilization. We seek to focus our work where we can make the greatest positive difference. Our researchers regularly collaborate with governments from around the world and key industry groups working on artificial intelligence. To read more about the institute’s research activities, please see http://www.fhi.ox.ac.uk/research/research-areas/. Continue reading

Announcement: Oxford Uehiro Prize in Practical Ethics

Graduate and undergraduate students currently enrolled at the University of Oxford in any subject are invited to enter the Oxford Uehiro Prize in Practical Ethics by submitting an essay of up to 2000 words on any topic relevant to practical ethics.  Eligibility includes visiting students who are registered as recognized students, and paying fees, but does not include informal visitors.  Two undergraduate papers and two graduate papers will be shortlisted from those submitted to go forward to a public presentation and discussion, where the winner of each category will be selected.

The winner from each category will receive £300, and the runner up £100. All four finalist essays will be considered for publication in the Journal of Practical Ethics.

To enter, please submit your written papers by the end of 25 January 2016 to rocci.wilkinson@philosophy.ox.ac.uk. Finalists will be notified in early to mid February. The public presentation will take place in 7th Week, Hilary term 2016.

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