PPE Distinguished Public Lecture: Dan Ariely

Professor Dan Ariely will deliver the 2019 PPE Distinguished Public Lecture at Virginia Tech. The lecture is co-organized with the Data and Decisions Destination Area at Virginia Tech.

Professor Ariely is the James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics and author of Predictably Irrational, The Upside of Irrationality, The (Honest) Truth about Dishonesty, Irrationally Yours, Payoff, and Dollars and Sense. Professor Ariely is a New York Times bestselling author and his TED talks have been viewed over 10 million times.

At Virginia Tech, Professor Ariely will speak about “Free Beer.” The lecture will take place in the Moss Arts Center on February 20, 2019, from 5-7pm. No tickets are required. The lecture will be followed by a public reception. You are cordially invited to attend.

PPE Discussion Colloquium: Democracy in America

On March 23, 2019, the Program in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics will co-organize a daylong discussion colloquium for selected undergraduate students on the topic “Democracy in America.”

Professor Theodore Christov (George Washington University) will serve as discussion leader in order to facilitate an in-depth exploration of the questions and challenges raised by a set of readings on the topic, in particular by Alexis de Tocqueville.

PPE Events: Spring 2019

This semester, the PPE Program will host two guest speakers, one Visiting Research Scholar (the whole spring semester), and the third PPE Distinguished Public Lecture.

Douglas Noonan (Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis) will speak about freelancers, innovation, and crowds (the talk is co-organized with the Center for Humanities), Dan Ariely (Duke University) will speak about free beer (the lecture is co-organized with the Data and Decisions Destination Area), and Michael Douma will speak about creative historical thinking.

In addition, the PPE Program will organize an all-day discussion colloquium with Theodore Christov (George Washington University) on the topic “Democracy in America,” and the PPE Reading Group will meet biweekly to discuss Elizabeth Anderson’s (University of Michigan) book Private Government.

All PPE events are open to faculty, students, and the general public. For more details concerning these events, please see the PPE Calendar.

PPE Reading Group: Spring 2019

This semester, the PPE Reading Group will discuss Elizabeth Anderson’s (University of Michigan) book Private Government (books provided). For more information about Professor Anderson’s work, please see this profile in The New Yorker.

The PPE Reading Group will meet every other week during the spring semester on Tuesday 4:30-6pm 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). Please sign up with Gil Hersch (hersch@nullvt.edu) at the beginning of the semester to receive your book in time to read.

PPE Visiting Research Scholar: Douglas Noonan

Program in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics

During the spring semester 2019, Professor Douglas Noonan will be a visiting research scholar in the Program of Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at Virginia Tech. During his time at Virginia Tech, Professor Noonan will also be associated with the Center for Humanities.

Douglas Noonan is a Professor in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis. His research focuses on a variety of policy and economics issues related to the urban environment, neighborhood dynamics, and quality-of-life. His research has been sponsored by a variety of organizations (e.g., National Science Foundation, Environmental Protection Agency, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, National Endowment for the Arts) on topics like policy adoption, environmental risks, energy, air quality, spatial modeling, green urban revitalizations, and cultural economics. Noonan earned his Ph.D. in public policy at the University of Chicago.

ASPECT Books Session Features Work by PPE Faculty

The next ASPECT Books session will feature recently published works by Matt Gabriele, Andy Scerri, and Michael Moehler. The session should be of interest to PPE faculty and students.

The event will take place on November 30, 2018, from 1-3pm in the Center for Humanities Seminar Room that is located on the ground floor of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Building.

PPE Speaker Series/Advancing the Human Condition Symposium: William A. Darity

William A. Darity, the Samuel DuBois Cook Professor of Public Policy in the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University, will give a PPE Talk on the topic “Bold Policies for Social Change.” The talk will also serve as the Keynote Lecture for the Advancing the Human Condition Symposium at Virginia Tech.

The talk will place on November 28, 2018, from 4-5:30pm in the Latham Ballroom (Inn at Virginia Tech) and is tailored to appeal to both students and faculty, with plenty of time for discussion and interaction with the guest speaker. You are cordially invited to attend.

Here is the full program of the 2018 Advancing the Human Condition Symposium.

PPE Speaker Series: Dan Shahar

Dan Shahar from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will give a talk on the topic “Are We Morally Obligated to Restrict Our Carbon Footprints?” The talk will take place on November 7, 2018, from 4-5:30pm in 155 Goodwin Hall. The talk is tailored to appeal to both students and faculty, with plenty of time for discussion and interaction with the guest speaker. You are cordially invited to attend.

Here is the abstract of the talk: For those who worry about climate change, our ‘carbon footprints’ are a major concern. According to a common view, individuals have an ethical obligation to restrict their contributions to climate change even in the absence of public policies that tackle the problem. But does this view accurately capture our moral duties? In this talk, Dan Shahar will argue that individuals are not obligated to act unilaterally to restrict their carbon footprints and, moreover, trying to convince people to reduce their carbon footprints is a misguided way to fight climate change. If Shahar is right, then climate activists may need to fundamentally revise the way they think about our moral obligations in a rapidly warming world.

PPE Speaker Series: Jessica Flanigan

Jessica Flanigan from the University of Richmond will give a talk on the topic “Pharmaceutical Freedom.” The talk takes place on October 17, 2018, from 4-5:30pm in 155 Goodwin Hall. The talk is tailored to appeal to both students and faculty, with plenty of time for discussion and interaction with the guest speaker. You are cordially invited to attend.

Here is the abstract of the talk (and book): If a competent adult refuses medical treatment, physicians and public officials must respect her decision. Coercive medical paternalism is a clear violation of the doctrine of informed consent, which protects patients’ rights to make medical decisions even if a patient’s choice endangers her health. The same reasons for rejecting medical paternalism in the doctor’s office are also reasons to reject medical paternalism at the pharmacy, yet coercive medical paternalism persists in the form of premarket approval policies and prescription requirements for pharmaceuticals.

In Pharmaceutical Freedom Jessica Flanigan defends patients’ rights of self-medication. Flanigan argues that public officials should certify drugs instead of enforcing prohibitive pharmaceutical policies that disrespect people’s rights to make intimate medical decisions and prevent patients from accessing potentially beneficial new therapies. This argument has revisionary implications for important and timely debates about medical paternalism, recreational drug legalization, human enhancement, prescription drug prices, physician assisted suicide, and pharmaceutical marketing. The need for reform is especially urgent as medical treatment becomes increasingly personalized and patients advocate for the right to try. The doctrine of informed consent revolutionized medicine in the twentieth century by empowering patients to make treatment decisions. Rights of self-medication are the next step.

PPE Research: Gil Hersch publishes on business ethics

Gil Hersch (PPE Postdoctoral Fellow) published an article on “The Irrelevance of Unsuccessful Traders” in the Business Ethics Journal Review 6(8): 41-46. Here is an abstract of the article:

Alasdair MacIntyre argues that moral virtues are antithetical to what is required of those who trade in financial markets to succeed. MacIntyre focuses on four virtues and argues that successful traders possess none of them: (i) self-knowledge, (ii) courage, (iii) taking a long-term perspective, and (iv) tying one’s own good with some set of common goods. By contrast, I argue that (i)–(iii) are, in fact, traits of successful traders, regardless of their normative assessment. The last trait – caring about the common good – is often counterproductive in most for-profit ventures, including trading, and so singling out traders is inappropriate.