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Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics

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Education
Society & Culture
Philosophy
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A selection of seminars and special lectures on wide-ranging topics relating to practical ethics. The Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics was established in 2002 with the support of the Uehiro Foundation on Ethics and Education of Japan. It is an integral part of the philosophy faculty of Oxford University, one of the great centres of academic excellence in philosophical ethics.

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A selection of seminars and special lectures on wide-ranging topics relating to practical ethics. The Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics was established in 2002 with the support of the Uehiro Foundation on Ethics and Education of Japan. It is an integral part of the philosophy faculty of Oxford University, one of the great centres of academic excellence in philosophical ethics.

iTunes Ratings

5 Ratings
Average Ratings
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iTunes Ratings

5 Ratings
Average Ratings
3
1
0
0
1
Cover image of Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics

Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics

Latest release on May 11, 2020

The Best Episodes Ranked Using User Listens

Updated by OwlTail 13 days ago

Rank #1: Uehiro Seminar: Sleep and Opportunity for Well-being

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Discussing a paper co-authored with David Birks, Alexandre Erler suggests sleeping less can provide a greater opportunity for well-being. While many people today are not sleeping long enough, there is still an important minority of the population who sleeps longer than average. Even a small reduction in the number of hours a person sleeps could have a significant positive impact on how well that person's life can go. The authors propose that there is a strong reason to investigate any ways of allowing people, particularly long sleepers, to function on less sleep without harming their health or quality of life.

Feb 05 2013

42mins

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Rank #2: St Cross Seminar: On Swearing

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What, if anything, is wrong with swearing? And, what exactly are we doing when we try to swear inoffensively? I begin by reflecting on why we swear, why it is widely deemed offensive, and some of the benefits of swearing. I then turn to the widespread practice of substituting asterisks for letters (and analogous spoken strategies) in an effort to swear without causing offence, and consider what could possibly explain how such a practice succeeds (if it does) in making swear words less offensive. I argue that – to the extent that swearing is offensive – there is no plausible philosophical story according to which this practice succeeds in rendering swearing inoffensive, and that some accounts of why swearing is offensive entail that asterisked swearing actually magnifies the badness of swearing. I conclude that, in so far as we are willing to view asterisked swearing as inoffensive, we should not be offended by swearing. (This talk will contain swearing. However, since the speaker hopes to convince you that swearing is less offensive than it is often taken to be, you should not let this dissuade you from coming along.)

Feb 23 2015

31mins

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Rank #3: Solving the Replication Crisis in Psychology: Insights from History and Philosophy of Science

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In this episode, Brian Earp discusses the 'Reproducibility Project' and questions whether psychology is in crisis or not. In a much-discussed New York Times article, psychologist Lisa Feldman Barrett claimed, “Psychology is not in crisis.” She was responding to the results of a large-scale initiative called the Reproducibility Project, published in Science magazine, which appeared to show that the results from over 60% of a sample of 100 psychology studies did not hold up when independent labs attempted to replicate them. In this talk, Earp addresses three issues: what did the Reproducibility Project really show?; is psychology in crisis or not?; and is there room for improvement?

Jun 27 2017

37mins

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Rank #4: New Imaging Evidence for the Neural Bases of Moral Sentiments: Prosocial and Antisocial Behaviour

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2nd Annual Wellcome Lecture in Neuroethics, given by Professor Jorge Moll on 18th January 2011 on the subject of new evidence for Neural bases for moral sentiments.

Mar 28 2011

1hr 5mins

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Rank #5: The Neuroscience of Moral Agency (Or: How I Learned to Love Determinism and Still Respect Myself in the Morning)

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In this public lecture, Dr William Casebeer discusses neuroscience, human agency and free will. The findings of neuroscience are often used to undermine traditional assumptions about the nature of human agency. In this talk, I sketch out a compatibilist position which leverages a neo-Aristotelian concept of “critical control distinctions”—rather than talking about whether agents freely will actions, a more consilient vocabulary asks whether agents were in control or out of control when the action was taken. A plausible neurobiological determinism can save what is worth saving about our traditional notions of responsibility and also points toward a twenty-first century research agenda which coevolves legal and moral norms about responsibility with neuroscientific critical control capacities.

Feb 23 2017

55mins

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Rank #6: Human Rights vs Religion?

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Professor Roger Trigg gives the St Cross Special Ethics Seminar, Trinity Term 2011.

Jun 20 2011

32mins

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Rank #7: Implicit Moral Attitudes

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Research shows that implicit moral attitudes affect our thinking and behavior. This talk reports new psychological and neuroscientific research and explores potential implications for scientific moral psychology as well as for some philosophical theories.

Nov 14 2014

46mins

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Rank #8: Brain Science and the Military

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In this talk I explain the nature of national security interest in the burgeoning field of neuroscience and its implications for military and counter-intelligence operations. Professor Jonathan Moreno (University of Pennsylvania). Jonathan D. Moreno is the David and Lyn Silfen University Professor at the University of Pennsylvania where he is one of fifteen Penn Integrates Knowledge professors. At Penn he is also Professor of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, of History and Sociology of Science, and of Philosophy. His latest book is Impromptu Man: J.L. Moreno and the Origins of Psychodrama, Encounter Culture, and the Social Network (2014), which Amazon named a “#1 hot new release.” Among his previous books are The Body Politic, which was named a Best Book of 2011 by Kirkus Reviews, Mind Wars (2012), and Undue Risk (2000). Moreno frequently contributes to such publications as The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and often appears on broadcast and online media. In 2008-09 he served as a member of President Barack Obama’s transition team. His work has been cited by Al Gore and was used in the development of the screenplay for “The Bourne Legacy.” His online neuroethics course drew more than 36,000 registrants in fall 2013. The American Journal of Bioethics has called him “the most interesting bioethicist of our time.” Moreno is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and is the U.S. member of the UNESCO International Bioethics Committee. A Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C., Moreno has served as an adviser to many governmental and non-governmental organizations, including three presidential commissions, the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He holds the Visiting Professorship in History at the University of Kent, Canterbury, England. Moreno holds a Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis, was an Andrew W. Mellon post-doctoral fellow, holds an honorary doctorate from Hofstra University, and is a recipient of the Benjamin Rush Medal from the College of William and Mary Law School and the Dr. Jean Mayer Award for Global Citizenship from Tufts University.

Apr 17 2015

46mins

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Rank #9: Uehiro Seminar: The Value of Uncertainty

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Uncertainty and quality should be integrated into the quantitative sciences of complex systems; this talk offers some practical techniques that illustrate how this could be accomplished. The faith that truth lies in numbers goes back to the Pythagorean attempt to unify both practical and theoretical sciences. Its current manifestation is the idolisation of pre-Einsteinian physics in the quantification of social, economic, and behavioural sciences. The talk will explain how this "crisp number" mode of thinking has promoted the use of over-simplistic models and masking of uncertainties that can in turn lead to incomplete understanding of problems and bad decisions. The quality of a model in terms of its fitness for purpose can be ignored when convenience, especially computerised convenience, offers more easily calculated crisp numbers. Yet these inadequacies matter when computerised models generate pseudo-realities of their own through structures such as financial derivatives and processes such as algorithmic trading. Like Frankenstein's monster, we have already seen financial market pseudo-reality take on an uncontrolled, unstable and dangerous life of its own, all the more beguiling when it generated income for all parties in the merry-go-round. Despite its manifest failings, it is still going on.

Mar 05 2013

48mins

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Rank #10: Autism and Moral Responsibility: Executive Function and the Reactive Attitudes

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Professor Richman's talk combines differing theories of models of autism and moral responsibility, and explores the practical implications arising from these ideas. Although criteria for identifying autism have been established based on behavioral factors, researchers are still exploring and developing models to describe the cognitive and affective differences that lead to the known behaviors. Some of these models offer competing ways of understanding autism; some simply describe characteristics of autism. Significantly, these models tend to involve cognitive functions that are also cited in accounts of moral responsibility. This suggests that autism may be a reason not to blame an autistic person for some actions that transgress social, ethical, or legal expectations even when we would certainly blame a neurotypical person for the same action.

Whether to treat autism as exculpatory in any given circumstance appears to be influenced both by models of autism and by theories of moral responsibility. This talk will focus on a limited range of theories: autism as characterized in terms of executive function deficit, and moral responsibility based on access to appropriate reactive attitudes. In pursuing this particular combination of ideas, I do not intend to endorse them. The goal is, instead, to explore the implications of this combination of influential ideas about autism and about moral responsibility. These implications can be quite serious and practical for autists and those who interact directly with autists, as well as for broader communities as they attend to the fair, compassionate, and respectful treatment of increasing numbers of autistic adults.

Mar 08 2017

40mins

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Rank #11: Uehiro Seminar: Is Networking Immoral?

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If networking is considered to be either cultivating non-merit-based favouritism or demonstrating one’s merit in advance of formal selection processes, then I argue that it is an attempt to gain illegitimate advantage over competitors and is thus immoral. Networking is taken to be a perfectly innocuous part of business and career-advancement. I argue that, where the aim is to increase one’s prospects of prevailing in a formal competitive process for a job or university placement, networking is an attempt to gain illegitimate advantage. This is true no matter which of the two standard characterisations we accept. If networking is about building personal relationships, as some claim, then it involves cultivating non-merit-based favouritism. To that extent it shares one of the wrong-making features of bribery. On the other hand if networking is about demonstrating one’s merit in advance of formal selection processes, it shares one of the wrong-making features of earwigging in legal advocacy. One way or the other, the networker denies (or tries to deny) rival candidates something to which they are presumptively entitled. Either he denies their right not to be disadvantaged for reasons other than lack of relative merit, or he denies their right not to be disadvantaged by private ex parte communications that take place outside of formal selection processes.

Dec 05 2013

46mins

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Rank #12: St Cross Seminar: "I wouldn’t have consented if I’d known that could happen": Consenting without Understanding

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Tom Walker discusses autonomy and informed consent to medical treatment There are two features of consenting to medical treatment that have been little explored in the extensive literature on this topic. The first is that the requirement to obtain consent is conditional in the following sense – we only need to obtain consent for those things that are both wrong if done without consent, and that we want or have reason to do. The second is that whilst many patients in their interactions with doctors are initially uninformed, this does not always prevent them from choosing to have, or not to have, possible treatments. In this paper I explore the implications of these two features for the idea that doctors ought to provide information to patients about the treatments they propose. I will argue that these features create a serious problem for the widely held idea that it would be wrong, because it would fail to respect his autonomy, to give a competent patient medical treatment without his valid consent (where this refers to a voluntary and informed agreement to have the treatment). As such the requirement to respect autonomy will not give any reason for doctors to provide information in these cases; in fact on at least some accounts of autonomy the obligation to respect autonomy would give them a reason not to provide that information. The paper then goes on to consider some ways in which the obligation to provide information about potential treatments could be supported.

May 19 2014

44mins

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Rank #13: The Ethics of Stress, Resilience, and Moral Injury Among Police and Military Personnel

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Professor Seumas Miller sets out how the use of lethal and coercive forces may erode moral character and cause moral injury. According to leading psychiatrist Jonathan Shay whose patients are US war veterans, “Moral injury is an essential part of any combat trauma that leads to lifelong psychological injury. Veterans can usually recover from horror, fear and grief so long as ”what’s right” has also not been violated”. The focus of this paper is on moral injury in both military combatants and police officers. The role of combatants and that of police officer both necessarily involve the use of harmful methods – paradigmatically, the use of lethal force in the case of combatants, the use of coercive force, deception and the like in the case of police officers - in the service of good ends, notably national self-defence and law enforcement, respectively. However, the use of these methods sets up a dangerous moral dynamic, including so-called dirty hands/dirty harry scenarios, and the possibility of the erosion of moral character - and, in some cases, moral injury.

Mar 26 2019

56mins

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Rank #14: The bad seed: facts and values in the study of childhood antisocial behaviour

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The speaker presents some recent work that has been done on children who are seen to be at risk of violence; and raises questions about the social and ethical significance of studying children in this way and for this purpose. Most societies seek to reduce the level of violence that occurs between its members and utilise social and political means to do so. There has been increasing interest in the possibilities of using psychiatric and psychological means to reduce violence; chiefly by identifying potentially violent individuals and intervening in some way. I will present some recent work that has been done on children who are seen to be at risk of violence; and raise questions about the social and ethical significance of studying children in this way and for this purpose. Gwen Adshead is a Forensic Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist. She trained at St George's hospital, the Institute of Psychiatry and the Institute of Group Analysis. For the last ten years, she has worked as a Consultant Forensic Psychotherapist at Broadmoor Hospital, where she runs psychotherapeutic groups for offenders, and works with staff and organisational dynamics. Gwen also has a Masters' Degree in Medical Law and Ethics; and has a research interest in moral reasoning, and how this links with 'bad' behaviour. Gwen has published a number of books and over 100 papers, book chapters and commissioned articles on forensic psychotherapy, ethics in psychiatry, and attachment theory as applied to medicine and forensic psychiatry.

Nov 19 2012

1hr 33mins

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Rank #15: 1st St Cross Seminar HT13: Two Conceptions of Children's Welfare

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Anthony Skelton examines possible reasons why philosophers have neglected to discuss children's welfare. After outlining and evaluating differing views, a rival account is presented. What makes a child's life go well? This paper examines two answers to this question, one put forward by Wayne Sumner in Welfare, Happiness, and Ethics and another by Richard Kraut in What is Good and Why: The Ethics of Well-being. The argument of this paper is that neither view is entirely satisfactory. A better account of the nature of children's welfare combines elements of both views. This paper is divided into five sections. The first section examines possible reasons why philosophers have neglected to discuss children's welfare. The second section outlines and evaluates Sumner's view. The third section outlines and evaluates Kraut's view. The fourth section sketches an account of children's welfare that rivals the accounts discussed in sections two and three. The final section summarizes my results.

Feb 05 2013

1hr 20mins

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Rank #16: Savulescu interview: Moral Enhancement

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Nigel Warburton interviews Julian Savulescu on the topic of moral enhancement.

Jun 01 2011

24mins

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Rank #17: Is there a Moral Problem with the Gig Economy?

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Is 'gig work' exploitative and injust? In this New St Cross Special Ethics Seminar, Daniel Halliday examines the common concerns from an ethical perspective. Recent advances in communication economy have created new ways for consumers to access service labour. Those who own the platforms associated with these services typically do not employ their workers, but treat them as freelance or 'gig' workers. This has led to a popular complaint that gig work is exploitative or otherwise unjust, and that the platforms need to regulated so that their workers qualify as employees. Many people now boycott the platforms using gig work, or feel uncomfortable about using it. But it is not obvious what the connection is between gig work and injustice or exploitation per se. After all, gig work has always been around in many other forms, and much of it compares favourably with employment in firms. This is not to dismiss the concern that many have with particular kinds of gig work, only to observe that the problem is complicated and calls for more detailed moral theorizing. At bottom, what's needed is a proper theory of what the difference between employment and freelance/gig work is supposed to be, and what moral purpose it serves. This talk will aim to make some progress in this direction.

Mar 04 2019

41mins

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Rank #18: St Cross Seminar: Natural Human Rights: A Theory

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This talk explores the central argument in Boylan's recent book, 'Natural Human Rights: A Theory' Arguing against the grain of most contemporary writers on the subject, I contend that an examination of the structure and function of human action allows one to bridge the fact/value chasm to create binding positive duties that recognize fundamental human rights claims. This theoretical argument is then suggestively applied to contemporary social and political problems in the world.

Dec 03 2014

59mins

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Rank #19: Freedom of Political Communication, Propaganda and the Role of Epistemic Institutions in Cyberspace

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Professor Seumas Miller defines fake news, hate speech and propaganda, discusses the relationship between social media and political propaganda. In this article I provide definitions of fake news, hate speech and propaganda, respectively. These phenomenon are corruptive of the epistemic (i.e. knowledge-aiming) norms, e.g. to tell the truth. I also elaborate the right to freedom of communication and its relation both to censoring propaganda and to the role of epistemic institutions, such as a free and independent press and universities. Finally, I discuss the general problem of countering political propaganda in cyberspace and argue, firstly, that there is an important role for epistemic institutions in this regard and, secondly, that social media platforms need to be redesigned since, as they stand and notwithstanding the benefits which they provide, they are a large part of the problem.

Jun 20 2019

53mins

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Rank #20: One Minute in Haditha: Neuroscience, Emotion and Military Ethics

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In this special lecture, Professor Mitt Regan discusses the latest research in moral perception and judgment, and the potential implications of this research for ethics education in general and military ethics training in particular. In November 2005, an improvised explosive device destroyed a vehicle in a US Marine Corps convoy, killing one man and seriously injuring another. Less than a minute later, Sergeant Frank Wuterich saw five unarmed Iraqi men standing by a car about fifteen meters away. The men were unarmed, and made no move to advance toward him, nor did they exhibit any hostile behavior. Wuterich later described what happened next: “I took a knee in the road and fired. Engaging was the only choice. The threat had to be neutralized.” The five men whom Wuterich killed were four college students and a driver they had hired to take them to class. The white car in effect was a taxi, although not marked as such. No weapons were found in the car.

On one account, Wuterich’s moral failure was that he allowed himself to be overcome by emotions of fear and anger that were untempered by reason. This account is consistent with an influential understanding of moral behavior as a product of higher-order cognitive processes that distinguish us from other creatures. As humans, we can be held responsible for failing to use reason to bring our emotions under control.

On another account, however, Wuterich’s moral failure was that he responded to the situation with the wrong kind of emotion. This account posits that emotions have a cognitive component, and that individuals can be held responsible for the kinds of emotional responses that they habitually exhibit in specific situations. This lecture will discuss research in neuroscience and psychology that provides support for this account by emphasizing the importance of affective computational processes that are closely associated with moral perception and judgment. It will then discuss the potential implications of this research for ethics education in general and military ethics training in particular.

Jun 19 2019

43mins

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