PPE Research: Michael Moehler publishes on diversity

Michael Moehler’s (Director of the PPE Program) article on “Diversity, Stability, and Social Contract Theory” is forthcoming with Philosophical Studies. Here is an abstract of the article.

The topic of moral diversity is not only prevalent in contemporary moral and political philosophy, it is also practically relevant. Moral diversity, however, poses a significant challenge for moral theory building. John Thrasher (Synthese, forthcoming), in his discussion of public reason theory, which includes social contract theory, argues that if one seriously considers the goal of moral constructivism and considerations of representation and stability, then moral diversity poses an insurmountable problem for most public reason theories. I agree with Thrasher that moral diversity poses a significant challenge for orthodox multistage social contract theories. In fact, I even add a further problem for such theories under the assumption of deep moral diversity. Nevertheless, I argue that my (Moehler, Minimal morality: a multilevel social contract theory, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2018) recently developed multilevel social contract theory overcomes these problems. I focus on some of the underexplored features of this theory to show that multilevel social contract theory offers one conceptually coherent and plausible way to render social contract theory viable and relevant for modern diverse societies.

PPE Research: Gil Hersch publishes on research ethics

Gil Hersch (PPE Postdoctoral Fellow) published an article on “Educational Equipoise and the Educational Misconception; Lessons from Bioethics” in Teaching and Learning Inquiry, 6(2) 2018, 3-15. Here is an abstract of the article:

Some advances in bioethics regarding ethical considerations that arise in the context of medical research can also be relevant when thinking about the ethical considerations that arise in the context of SoTL research. In this article, I aim to bring awareness to two potential ethical challenges SoTL researchers might face when playing a dual role of teacher and researcher that are similar to the challenges physicians face in their dual role of physician and researcher. In this article, I argue that two commonly discussed concerns in bioethics—the need for clinical equipoise and the possibility of a therapeutic misconception—have analogies when conducting some types of research on students. I call these counterparts educational equipoise and the educational misconception.

PPE Research: Thomas Rowe’s article forthcoming in Philosophy & Public Affairs

Thomas Rowe (PPE Postdoctoral Fellow) and Alex Voorhoeve’s (London School of Economics) article on “Egalitarianism under Severe Uncertainty” has been accepted for publication with Philosophy & Public Affairs. Here is an abstract of the article:

Decision-makers face severe uncertainty when they are not in a position to assign precise probabilities to all of the relevant possible outcomes of their actions. Such situations are common – novel medical treatments and policies addressing climate change are two examples. Many decision-makers respond to such uncertainty in a cautious manner and are willing to incur a cost to avoid it. There are good reasons for taking such an uncertainty-averse attitude to be permissible. However, little work has been done to incorporate it into an egalitarian theory of distributive justice. We aim to remedy this lack. We put forward a novel, uncertainty-averse egalitarian view. We analyse when the aims of reducing inequality and limiting the burdens of severe uncertainty are congruent and when they conflict, and highlight practical implications of the proposed view. We also demonstrate that if uncertainty aversion is permissible, then utilitarians must relinquish a favourite argument against egalitarianism.

PPE Reading Group: Fall 2018

This semester, the PPE Reading Group will discuss¬†Joseph Carens’ (University of Toronto) book The Ethics of Immigration¬†(books provided). The PPE Reading Group will meet every other week during the spring semester on Tuesday 5-7pm at 215 Major Williams Hall. Enjoy free pizza and soft drinks with our discussion!

Participation is open to any interested student (whether already a PPE student or interested in becoming one). The first meeting will be on Tuesday, September 11, 2018. Sign up with Gil Hersch (hersch@nullvt.edu) to receive your book in time to read.

PPE Meet and Greet: Fall 2018

The Program in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at Virginia Tech will hold its annual PPE Meet and Greet event on September 11, 2018, from 4-5pm in the Major Williams Atrium.

There will be a small informal reception for faculty, students, and anyone interested in PPE. Learn more about the PPE Program, its degrees, and activities this academic year. Please join us for the event.