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.

PPE Events: Fall 2018

This semester, the PPE Program will host three guest speakers who will present their most recent work to faculty, students, and the general public.

Jessica Flanigan (University of Richmond) will speak about pharmaceutical freedom, Dan Shahar (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) will speak about our potential moral obligation to restrict our carbon footprint, and William A. Darity (Duke University), in the context of the PPE Speaker Series, will deliver the keynote lecture at the Advancing the Human Condition Symposium.

In addition, the PPE Reading Group will meet biweekly to discuss Joseph Carens’ book The Ethics of Immigration.

Please see the PPE Calendar for more details concerning these events.

VT News: New Major in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics

Anticipation, adrenaline, confidence, hope, and a touch of anxiety fill the waiting room. A dozen well-educated college graduates wait for an interview at a major Wall Street firm. But one candidate stands out among the intense competition, showcasing high-level critical thinking that arrives at solutions that are not only economically sound, but also socially, ethically, and politically informed.

A new interdisciplinary major at Virginia Tech prepares undergraduates for this post-graduation scenario. The philosophy, politics, and economics (PPE) major is a collaborative degree between the Department of Philosophy and the Department of Political Science in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences and the Department of Economics in the College of Science.

“The PPE major attracts driven students in the humanities and social sciences who have a genuine interest in working across disciplines and a desire to…

To read more, please follow this link: VT News Story.

PPE Discussion Colloquium on Foreign Aid

On April 14, 2018, the Program in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics will co-organize a day-long discussion colloquium for selected undergraduate students on the topic “The Economics of Foreign Aid.” The colloquium will explore the questions and challenges raised by a set of readings on the topic of foreign aid that will be provided in advance. The reading list entails work by Nobel Prize Winner Amartya Sen who will be on campus for the PPE Distinguished Public Lecture in the week after the discussion colloquium.

PPE Undergraduate Student Ambassadorships

Each academic year, the Program in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics selects several undergraduate students to serve as ambassadors for the program. The PPE Undergraduate Student Ambassadorships offer a unique leadership and network opportunity for undergraduate students at Virginia Tech.

The primary tasks of the ambassadors are to (i) promote the PPE Program at Virginia Tech, (ii) work closely with the PPE Program Director as well as with the program’s faculty and staff, and (iii) serve as a student contact for PPE events, such as the PPE Speaker Series and the PPE Distinguished Public Lecture. For more information about PPE events, please follow this link.

The application process for next year’s PPE Undergraduate Student Ambassadorships is open now. Any student who is enrolled (or will enroll) for the PPE Minor or PPE Major is eligible to apply. Please submit (i) a short personal statement that explains your interest in becoming a PPE Undergraduate Student Ambassador and (ii) your resume. The application materials must be submitted to Professor Moehler (moehler@nullvt.edu) by April 12, 2018. We look forward to receiving your application.

PPE Research: Michael Moehler publishes Minimal Morality

Michael Moehler, Director of the PPE Program at Virginia Tech, recently published a book at the intersection of philosophy, politics, and economics.

The book includes discussion of the relationship between morality and self-interest, utility theory, rational choice theory, social and economic productivity, distributive justice, the welfare state, and global justice. In the book, Professor Moehler applies formal methods to moral and political philosophy and develops a new type of social contract theory that aims to ensure mutually beneficial peaceful long-term cooperation in deeply morally pluralistic societies.

Here is more information about the book.

PPE-GFURR Lecture: Catherine Herfeld

Catherine Herfeld from the University of Zurich will give a talk on the topic “The Many Faces of Rational Choice Theory.” The talk takes place on April 2, 2018, from 4-6 PM in 118B Surge Building. Professor Herfeld’s talk is co-sponsored by the Global Forum on Urban and Regional Resilience 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 abstract of the talk: Throughout the second half of the twentieth century, theories of rational choice have been extensively employed in economics and the social sciences more generally. They have been used in the hope of solving a variety of distinct conceptual, methodological and epistemic problems and are thus to be found in nearly any context in which economists aim at generating knowledge about the economy. At the same time, theories of rational choice have been attacked from various sides. As they have been empirically falsified countless times, they have often been identified as responsible for the explanatory and predictive shortcomings of economic models and theories. In this talk, I aim to provide a fresh perspective on persistent debates about the epistemic potentials and limitations of rational choice theory. First, I suggest that rational choice theory has many conceptually and methodologically distinct faces that remain prevalent in contemporary economics, but have emerged from a history of earlier attempts to conceptualize the behavior of human agents. By looking more closely at a set of historical and contemporary cases, I argue that the way in which rational choice theories have been used and justified in economics has depended crucially upon the problems that economists addressed. They should accordingly be evaluated against the backdrop of precisely those problems they were meant to provide a solution for. Second, I argue that even if economists could draw upon an empirically more adequate theory of human behavior, it remains to be seen whether they have found an appropriate solution for the empirical difficulties that economic models and theories actually confront.

PPE Movie Night: “I, Daniel Blake”

Please join us on March 26, 2018, for a screening of the movie “I, Daniel Blake”, followed by a discussion of the welfare state led by faculty of the PPE Program.

The movie has won 25 international awards, including the Palme d’Or at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival. The film screening will start at 7pm (Newman Library Multipurpose Room). Snacks will be provided.

This event is co-sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. All faculty and students are welcome to attend.