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Oxford Uehiro Prize in Practical Ethics: How Should Career Choice Ethics Address Ignorance-Related Harms?

This article received an honourable mention in the graduate category of the 2022 National Oxford Uehiro Prize in Practical Ethics.

Written by Open University student Lise du Buisson

Introduction

Choosing a career is a decision which governs most of our lives and, in large part, determines our impact on the world around us. Although being fortunate enough to freely choose a career is becoming increasingly common, surprisingly little philosophical work has been done on career choice ethics (MacAskill 2014). This essay is concerned with the question of how an altruistically-minded individual should go about choosing a career, a space currently dominated by theories oriented towards achieving the most good. Identifying an overlooked aspect of the altruistic career choice problem, I draw from non-ideal theory and the harm reduction paradigm in feminist practical ethics[1] to propose an alternative account of altruistic career choice ethics informed by where one is likely to do the least harm. Continue reading

Cross Post: Western Pharma Companies Should Supply Only Essential Medicines to Russia

Written by Alex Polyakov, The University of Melbourne and Julian Savulescu, University of Oxford

In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and overwhelming destruction of property and loss of innocent lives, a number of western companies – from McDonalds to Apple – stopped or severely limited their activities in the Russian Federation.

One glaring exception appears to be the majority of western pharmaceutical companies that continue to supply medicines and equipment.

There is growing political and consumer pressure on these companies to take steps to join the concerted efforts designed to pressure the
Russian government to stop the war in Ukraine. Continue reading

Announcement: Philosophy and Psychiatry Summer School, 15 – 15 July 2022

The Philosophy and Psychiatry Summer School returns this year, 14-15 July, at St Hilda’s College Oxford.

 Registrations now open and the deadline for the early bird rate is 14th April.

Keynote speaker: Essi Viding (Division of Psychology and Language Sciences, University College London)

Summer School Sessions run by:

  • Khaldoon Ahmed (East London NHS Foundation Trust) with Susan Young (Royal College of Art) and Laurie Dahl (South West London St George’s NHS Trust)
  • Kamaldeep Bhui (Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford) and Neil Armstrong (Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford)
  • Caroline Green (NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce, King’s College London) and Palvi Dodhia (Serene Care)
  • Jonathan Pugh (Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, University of Oxford) and Camillia Kong (Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford)
  • Mohammed Rashed (Department of Philosophy, Birkbeck, University of London) and Kai Syng Tan (Manchester School of Art, Manchester Metropolitan University)
  • Frank Rohricht (Wolfson Institute of Population Health, Queen Mary University of London and East London NHS Foundation Trust) and Lambros Malafouris (School of Archaeology, University of Oxford)

More info and registration

Oxford Uehiro Prize in Practical Ethics: Why We Should Negatively Discount the Well-Being of Future Generations

This essay was the winner in the undergraduate category of the 8th Annual Oxford Uehiro Prize in Practical Ethics

Written by Matthew Price, University of Oxford Student

Practical ethicists and policymakers alike must grapple with the problem of how to weigh the interests of future people against those of contemporary people. This question is most often raised in discussions about our responsibility to abate climate change,1 but it is also pertinent to the mitigation of other existential risks, disposal of nuclear waste, and investment in long-term scientific enterprise. To date, most of the debate has been between those who defend the practice of discounting future generations’ well-being at some positive rate and those who argue that the only morally defensible discount rate is zero.2 This essay presents an argument for a negative discount rate:

  • There is reason to believe that the well-being of those who are more morally deserving counts for more.
  • There is reason to expect that future people will be more morally deserving than we are now.

Continue reading

Announcing the Winners and Runners Up in the 8th Annual Oxford Uehiro Prize in Practical Ethics

Please join us in congratulating all four of the finalists in the National Oxford Uehiro Prize in Practical Ethics 2022, and in particular our winners, Matthew Price and Lily Moore-Eissenberg.

This, the 8th Annual Oxford Uehiro Prize in Practical Ethics was, for the first time, held as a National competition. From 5:30pm on the 15th March, in the lecture theatre of the Faculty of Philosophy, as well as online, the four finalists presented their papers and ideas to an audience and responded to a short Q&A as the final round in the competition. Over the coming weeks a selection of the winning essays and honourable mentions will be published on this blog.

Undergraduate Category

Winner: Matthew Price – Why We Should Negatively Discount the Well-Being of Future Generations

Runner Up: Leo Rogers – Terra nullius, populus sine terra: who may settle Antarctica?

Honourable Mentions: Lukas Joosten – When Money Can’t Buy Happiness: Does Our Duty to Assist the Needy Require Us to Befriend the Lonely?

Alexander Scoby – Why don’t we just let the wise rule?!

 

Graduate Category

Winner: Lily Moore-Eissenberg – Legal Proof and Structural Injustice: Should jurors be given information about structural racism?

Runner Up: Avital Fried – Statistical Evidence and the Criminal Verdict Asymmetry

Honourable Mentions: Lise du Buisson – How should career choice ethics address ignorance-related harms?

Kabir Singh Bakshi – Against Broome’s ‘Against Denialism’

Cross Post: Is This the End of the Road for Vaccine Mandates in Healthcare?

Written by Dominic Wilkinson, Alberto Giubilini, and Julian Savulescu

The UK government recently announced a dramatic U-turn on the COVID vaccine mandate for healthcare workers, originally scheduled to take effect on April 1 2022. Health or social care staff will no longer need to provide proof of vaccination to stay employed. The reason, as health secretary Sajid Javid made clear, is that “it is no longer proportionate”.

There are several reasons why it was the right decision at this point to scrap the mandate. Most notably, omicron causes less severe disease than other coronavirus variants; many healthcare workers have already had the virus (potentially giving them immunity equivalent to the vaccine); vaccines are not as effective at preventing re-infection and transmission of omicron; and less restrictive alternatives are available (such as personal protective equipment and lateral flow testing of staff). Continue reading

Cross Post: Vaccine Mandates For Healthcare Workers Should Be Scrapped – Omicron Has Changed The Game

Written by Dominic Wilkinson, Jonathan Pugh and Julian Savulescu

Time is running out for National Health Service staff in England who have not had a COVID vaccine. Doctors and nurses have until Thursday, February 3, to have their first jab. If they don’t, they will not be fully immunised by the beginning of April and could be dismissed.

But there are reports this week that the UK government is debating whether to postpone the COVID vaccine mandate for healthcare staff. Would that be the right thing to do?

Vaccine requirements are controversial and have led to worldwide protests. Those in favour have argued that it is necessary and proportionate to protect vulnerable patients by making vaccination a condition of employment for healthcare staff. But critics have argued that vaccine mandates amount to a violation of human rights. Continue reading

Guest Post: No, We Don’t Owe It To The Animals to Eat Them

Written by Adrian Kreutz, New College, University of Oxford

That eating animals constitutes a harm has by now largely leaked into public opinion. Only rarely do meat eaters deny that. Those who deny it usually do so on the grounds of an assumed variance in consciousness or ability to suffer between human and non-human animals. Hardly anyone, however, has the audacity to argue that killing animals actually does them good, and that therefore we must continue eating meat and consuming animal products. Hardly anyone apart from UCL philosopher Nick Zangwill, that is, who in a recent article published in Aeon argues that “eating animals’ benefits animals for they exist only because human beings eat them”. One’s modus ponens is another’s modus tollens, right? Let me unpack and debunk his argument. Continue reading

Cross Post: Pig’s Heart Transplant: Was David Bennett the Right Person to Receive Groundbreaking Surgery?

Dominic Wilkinson, University of Oxford

The recent world-first heart transplant from a genetically modified pig to a human generated both headlines and ethical questions.

Many of those questions related to the ethics of xenotransplantation. This is the technical term for organ transplants between species. There has been research into this for more than a century, but recent scientific developments involving genetic modifications of animals to stop the organ being rejected appear to make this much more feasible.

Typical questions about xenotransplantation relate to the risks (for example, of transmitting infection), treatment of the animals, and the ethics of genetic modification of animals for this purpose. Continue reading

Cross Post: Why the UK Shouldn’t Introduce Mandatory COVID Vaccination

Written by Julian Savulescu, Dominic Wilkinson, and Jonathan Pugh

As coronavirus infections surge across Europe, and with the threat of the omicron variant looming, countries are imposing increasingly stringent pandemic controls.

In Austria, citizens will be subject to a vaccine mandate in February. In Greece, meanwhile, a vaccine mandate will apply to those 60 and over, starting in mid-January.

Both mandates allow medical exemptions, and the Greek mandate allows exemptions for those who have recently recovered from COVID.

Other countries, including Germany, may soon follow suit, and the European Commission has raised the need to discuss an EU vaccine mandate. In contrast, the UK health secretary, Sajid Javid, has been clear that the UK will not consider a general mandatory vaccination policy. Continue reading

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