Announcement: Journal of Practical Ethics Volume 3, Issue 1

Journal of Practical Ethics. Volume 3, Issue 1. June 2015

Cost Effectiveness Analysis and Fairness
F. M. Kamm
Journal of Practical Ethics, 3(1): 1-14
Read Online | Download PDF

The Elements of Well-Being
Brad Hooker
Journal of Practical Ethics, 3(1): 15-35
Read Online | Download PDF | Podcast

Motives to Assist and Reasons to Assist: the Case of Global Poverty
Simon Keller
Journal of Practical Ethics, 3(1): 37-63
Read Online | Download PDF

Announcement: The Stockholm Centre for the Ethics of War and Peace (SCEWP) has just launched a new blog.

The Stockholm Centre for the Ethics of War and Peace (SCEWP) has just launched a new blog.

The Ethical War Blog will publish short and timely opinion articles on war-related topics in the news, written by specialists in the field, in an accessible and digestible format.

The blog launches with five articles, with new content to be added continuously:

  • Prof. James Pattison asks whether arming rebels in conflicts such as Syria is preferable to military intervention. [LINK]
  • Prof. Adil Ahmed Haque discusses ISIS, cultural destruction, and international law. [LINK]
  • Prof. Yitzhak Benbaji and Prof. Alexander Yakobsen assess the morality of Hamas’ tactics during Operation Protective Edge [LINK]
  • Dr. Jonathan Peterson asks whether defending cultural objects can justify waging war against ISIS. [LINK]
  • Prof. David Rodin discusses the conflict between the right to free speech and the duty to avoid causing harm in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre. [LINK]


For more information about the blog (including if you would be interested in contributing), please get in touch with Jonathan Parry at

Should remorseful offenders be punished less harshly?

New Book: ‘Remorse, Penal Theory and Sentencing’ (Oxford: Hart Publishing)

If an offender is genuinely remorseful about the crime she committed, should she receive some small-but-non-trivial mitigation of her sentence? – i.e. should she be punished a little bit less than she would have been had she not been remorseful? In many jurisdictions, including England and Wales, this practice is written into the sentencing guidelines that judges have to follow. However, it is difficult to see how this practice can be justified, and intuitions about the relevance of remorse to criminal sentencing seem to vary wildly.

One first obvious concern is that it can be difficult to know whether an offender’s remorse is genuine: is she just pretending in the hope that her sentence will consequently be somewhat lighter than it would otherwise have been? Whilst the possibility of simulation indeed presents a practical challenge, the prior question is whether an offender’s genuine remorse should matter at all. Should judges try to determine whether an offender is remorseful and, if so, with what consequences? Continue reading

Oxford Uehiro Prize in Practical Ethics: Shortlisted Graduate and Undergraduate Essays

The Oxford Uehiro Prize in Practical Ethics was announced on this blog on the 26th November 2014.  By the 25th January a large number of high quality essays had been submitted and the judges had a difficult time narrowing the field down to a shortlist, which we now publish here: Continue reading

Oxford Uehiro Prize in Practical Ethics Presentation

HT15 Week 8, Thursday 12 March, 4.30 – 5.50 pm.

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 four finalists for the Oxford Uehiro Prize in Practical Ethics and to invite you to attend the final where they will present their entries. 2 finalists have been selected from each category (undergraduate and graduate) to present their ideas to an audience and respond to a short q and a as the final round in the competition. Continue reading

New Book: The Ethics of Embryonic Stem Cell Research

There is wide agreement that embryonic stem cell research holds unique promise for developing therapies for currently incurable diseases and conditions, and for important biomedical research. However, as it is currently done, the isolation of embryonic stem cells involves a process in which an early embryo is destroyed, which many find highly problematic.

This has resulted in what I refer to in my book as

The Problem. Either one supports embryonic stem cell research and accepts resulting embryo destruction, or one opposes embryonic stem cell research and accepts that the potential benefits of this research will be foregone. Continue reading

“Ravines and Sugar Pills: Defending Deceptive Placebo Use” – New Open Access Publication

A placebo can be understood as a medical intervention that lacks direct specific therapeutic effects on the condition for which it has been prescribed, but which can nonetheless help to ameliorate a patient’s condition. In March 2013, a study by Howick et al. suggested that the vast majority of UK general practitioners (GPs) have prescribed a placebo at some point in their career. This finding was somewhat controversial and received national media coverage in the UK (here and here). Part of the reason for this controversy is that the use of placebos in clinical practice is often deemed to be morally problematic, in so far as it often involves the intentional deception of the patient. Continue reading

Discriminating happiness. Journal of Practical Ethics 2(2) is out!

by Dominic Wilkinson, Managing editor JPE, @Neonatalethics

The latest issue of the journal is out this week:

Valerie Tiberius examines the relevance of different theories of wellbeing for the important practical task of providing life-advice to friends. She has posted a short blog on the topic. You can also listen to a great podcast interview with Professor Tiberius about her paper here.

The subject of wellbeing is also covered by a paper by Edward Skidelsky. He argues that happiness surveys give us some information (albeit imperfect) about whether or not people are happy; however, we cannot avoid the need to address the fundamental question of what counts as a good (or happy life).

“nothing that surveys might tell us can upset our common-sense conviction that health, love, freedom, security and respect all standardly contribute to happiness.”

Finally, Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen tackles the rights and wrongs of a pervasive form of discrimination. Lippert-Rasmussen contends that indirect discrimination (rules or behaviour that disproportionately disadvantages a group non-intentionally) isn’t necessarily unjust. He argues that only a strict egalitarian view (with uncomfortable implications) would make indirect discrimination always unjust. See also his blog above.


How Theories of Well-Being Can Help Us Help
Valerie Tiberius
Journal of Practical Ethics 2(2): 1-19
What can we learn from happiness surveys?
Edward Skidelsky
Journal of Practical Ethics 2(2): 20-32
Indirect Discrimination Is Not Necessarily Unjust
Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen
Journal of Practical Ethics 2(2): 33-57
Letter: Comment on “Associative Duties and the Ethics of Killing in War”
Jeff McMahan
Journal of Practical Ethics 2(2): 58-68
Letter: A Reply to McMahan
Seth Lazar
Journal of Practical Ethics 2(2): 69-71

Oxford Uehiro Prize in Practical Ethics

Announcement: Oxford Uehiro Prize in Practical Ethics, open to all students at Oxford University

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. 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. Continue reading

One Million Readers: Thank You

We are pleased to have reached our one millionth reader since our records began. Thank you to all our authors, guest posters, readers and commentators who have supported the blog over a number of years. And thanks to reader one million, whoever you are…

We would like to mark the occasion by taking stock about the future of the blog and would like to invite readers to contribute ideas for blog topics, and suggestions for improving the blog – both format and content via our comments section.