Uncategorized

Spiderman and the Meaning of Hope

Written by Hazem Zohny.

In Marvel’s latest ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’, Peter Parker’s girlfriend MJ has a simple philosophy: “If you expect disappointment, then you can never really be disappointed.”

She repeats this at various interludes in the movie, except as the plot gears up to the inevitable showdown with the villains, Peter Parker says to her:

Here goes nothing. What’s that thing you always say? ‘Expect disappointment and–‘”, but MJ, in a somewhat ham-fisted moment of character development, interrupts him: “No, no, no. No. We’re gonna kick some ass!

While this exchange was designed to trigger some inner-high five with the audience, I found MJ’s shift from quasi-stoic hopelessness to giddy hopefulness disappointing – here’s yet another story about how we need hope  to defeat the baddies/The Empire/Sauron/Thanos/the aliens/the comet/cancer. Continue reading

Was Djokovic Unethically Blamed and Shamed?

By Dominic Wilkinson, Julian Savulescu and Jonathan Pugh

The decision about whether to grant tennis star Novak Djokovic a visa allowing him to stay in Australia to compete in the Australian Open Championship has generated significant controversy. Last week, the Australian Immigration minister exercised his power to cancel the player’s visa on the grounds of ‘health and good order’ on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so. Djokovic’s lawyers have called the decision ‘patently irrational’ and have announced that they will appeal. Continue reading

Oxford Uehiro Centre Goes DefaultVeg

By Katrien Devolder

“Britons have cut their meat consumption by 17% over the past decade but will need to double these efforts if they are to meet targets for healthy diets and sustainable food production set out in the national food strategy earlier this year”. So began an article in The Guardian last Friday.[1] The article was reporting the guidance of the National food strategy[2]—commissioned by the UK government, but developed by an independent team in 2021—which recommends that meat consumption is cut by 30% within a decade. Many scientific studies have concluded that we (i.e., richer countries) need to be even more ambitious than that, especially if we want to halt the climate crisis.[3]

Continue reading

The Morality of Carbon Border Taxes

By Doug McConnell

The European Parliament has adopted a tool called the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) which will apply the EU’s carbon pricing to imported goods. This means that imports from countries with lesser or non-existent carbon pricing will effectively face a tariff. Various governments including Australia and China have objected strongly to the CBAM claiming that it unfairly forces EU rules on other countries, discriminates against them, and represents a return to the bad old days of trade protectionism.

So are CBAMs a noble mechanism to push the world towards carbon neutrality or the latest tool for powerful nations to assert control over weaker nations? I argue that the CBAM does have the potential to be discriminatory and unjust but not against rich countries like Australia that have had ample opportunity to develop (and maintain) a carbon pricing system.

Continue reading

Homelessness as a moral cost to the housed

Written by Neil Levy

Homelessness is, of course, above all a cost to the homeless:  it’s a dangerous, difficult, insecure way to live. There are therefore strong moral reasons to address it, for the sake of the homeless. There are also (non-moral) reasons to address it, centring on its costs to everyone, homeless and housed alike. It’s a financial cost to all of us, at least if it is true that it’s cheaper to give homeless people housing than to pay the costs associated with homelessness (policing, emergency care and shelters). Homelessness is an aesthetic cost and might bring with it associated litter, drunkenness (addiction is both a cause and a consequence of homelessness), and disorder. It decreases amenity for everyone. I want to suggest that homelessness is also a moral cost to the housed. Continue reading

‘Waiver or Understanding? A Dilemma for Autonomists about Informed Consent’

by Roger Crisp

At a recent New St Cross Ethics seminar, Gopal Sreenivasan, Crown University Distinguished Professor in Ethics at Duke University and currently visitor at Corpus Christi College and the Oxford Uehiro Centre, gave a fascinating lecture on whether valid informed consent requires that the consenter have understood the relevant information about what they are being asked to consent to. Gopal argued that it doesn’t. Continue reading

Guest Post: Frances Kamm- Harms, Wrongs, and Meaning in a Pandemic

Written by F M Kamm
This post originally appeared in The Philosophers’ Magazine

When the number of people who have died of COVID-19 in the U.S. reached 500,000 special notice was taken of this great tragedy. As a way of helping people appreciate how enormous an event this was, some commentators thought it would help to compare it to other events that involved a comparable number of people losing their lives. For example, it was compared to all the U.S lives lost on the battlefield in World Wars 1 and II and the Vietnam War (or World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam). Such comparisons raise questions, concerning dimensions of comparison, some of which are about degrees of harm, wrong, and meaningfulness which are considered in this essay. (Since the focus in the comparison was on the number of soldiers who died rather the number of other people affected by their deaths, this discussion will also focus on the people who die in a pandemic rather than those affected by their deaths.)

Continue reading

A Juror’s Guide to Going Rogue

Written by Doug McConnell

A jury recently acquitted several activists charged with causing £25,000 worth of damage to Shell’s HQ in London despite the defendants admitting that they caused the damage and the judge informing the jury that the defendants had no legal defence. In other words, if the law were applied correctly, the jury had no choice but to find them guilty. When juries deviate from the law and “go rogue” like this, it is known as “nullification”. But when, if ever, should juries behave in this way? Continue reading

Making Universities (Even) More Unfair

Written by Neil Levy

Unsurprisingly, I’m a big believer in universities and higher education. I think research, of all kinds, is important for a whole range of reasons and that being educated is very often conducive to a good life. But we shouldn’t pretend that universities are institutions wholeheartedly devoted to genuine education and to research. They’re also businesses, and their business motivations often play a more important role in their decisions than any academic considerations. Beyond that, they play a role in society that’s independent of their role as educators, and that role explains some of their grubbier behavior. Continue reading

Crosspost: Learning to live with COVID – the tough choices ahead

By Jonathan Pugh, Dominic Wilkinson and Julian Savulescu

This work was supported by the UKRI/ AHRC funded UK Ethics Accelerator project, grant number AH/V013947/1. The UK Ethics Accelerator project can be found at https://ukpandemicethics.org/

 

As mass vaccination continues to be rolled out, the UK is beginning to see encouraging signs that the number of COVID deaths is reducing, and that the vaccines may be reducing the transmission of coronavirus.

While this is very welcome news, a mass vaccination programme is unlikely to be enough to eliminate the virus, so we need to turn our thoughts towards the ethics of the long-term management of COVID-19.

One strategy would be to aim for the elimination of the virus within the UK. New Zealand successfully implemented an elimination strategy earlier in the pandemic and is now in a post-elimination stage.

An elimination strategy in the UK would require combining the mass vaccination programme with severe restrictions on international travel to stop new cases and variants of the virus being imported. However, the government has been reluctant to endorse an elimination strategy, given the importance of international trade to the UK economy.

One of the main alternatives to the elimination strategy is to treat coronavirus as endemic to the UK and to aim for long-term suppression of the virus to acceptable levels. But adopting a suppression strategy for the long term will require us to make a societal decision about the harms we are and are not willing to accept.

 

Continue reading

Authors

Affiliations