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Ethics in the Public Sphere Lecture Series

Ethics in the Public Sphere

Exploring the ethical challenges facing contemporary society, UC San Diego’s Department of Philosophy is bringing relevant and timely topics to the forefront for greater understanding and discussion. Ethics in the Public Sphere (EPS) was established in 2012 as a forum to bring to light the discussions and debates where ethics and public life intersect. EPS has since become a distinguished lecture series.

Read more about the series here:
Interview with former Philosophy Department Chair, Donald P. Rutherford

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Symposium 2024:

"True Grit: Striving in the Face of Adversity" April 16, 2024

Jennifer Morton - Presidential Associate Professor of Philosophy
at the University of Pennsylvania. Research spans ethics, political
and moral philosophy, and the philosophy of education.

The abstract: It's common to set out on a challenging pursuit without knowing whether you will succeed. As we confront hurdles and setbacks, we face a crucial decision: give up, or persevere? Optimism about our chances can help us avoid giving into premature despair.  But we argue that "grit"—striving in the face of adversity—can be rational only when it doesn't turn into Pollyannaish optimism. To strive rationally, we also need to pay close attention to our abilities and strengths, as well as to whether our circumstances will be conducive to our success. We develop a model of striving that aims to capture the multifaceted nature of this critical capacity of agents.

Past Events:

“How Can Procreation be Permissible?”    June 3, 2021

Jeff McMahan  -  White's Professor of Moral Philosophy at Oxford University, a distinguished research fellow at the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics and a fellow of Corpus Christi College


"Climate Change, Justice, and Quality of Life: A Convenient Truth … and a Lesson from COVID-19?"    November 19, 2020

Peter Railton  University of Michigan, Ann Arbor Gregory S. Kavka Distinguished University Professor and John Stephenson Perrin Professor of Philosophy


"CRISPR and the World: Little Worry, Too Much Worry, and Not Enough Worry"     JUNE 4, 2020

Henry T. (Hank) Greely -  Dean F. and Kate Edelman Johnson Professor of Law and, Professor, by courtesy, of Genetics Stanford Law School


"Selves Like Us"     November 14, 2019

Susan R. Wolf -  Professor of Moral Philosophy and Philosopher of Action, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


"Immigration and Morality: Invitation to a Dialogue"      April 11, 2019

Joseph Carens. Professor of Political Science, University of Toronto


"Condemned to Tribalism? Us Versus Them in Contemporary America"     November 15, 2018

Allen Buchanan. Allen Buchanan. Professor of Philosophy at Duke University and also Professor of the Philosophy of International Law at the Dickson Poon School of Law at King's College, London


"#metoo and the Failure to Warn Others"     May 24, 2018 

Elizabeth Harman. Associate Professor of Philosophy and Human Values, Princeton University


“The Roads To and From the Paris Climate Agreement”     December 1, 2017

Andrew Light. University Professor of Philosophy, Public Policy and Atmospheric Sciences, George Mason University; Distinguished Senior Fellow in the Climate Program, World Resources Institute 


“Death Squads and Death Lists: Targeted Killing and the Character of the State”     May 4, 2017

Jeremy Waldron. University Professor and Professor of Law, New York University; former Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory, All Souls College, Oxford


“The Shape of the State”     October 27, 2016

Philip Pettit. L.S. Rockefeller University Professor of Politics and Human Values, Princeton University


“Consciousness Unbound: The Ethics of Neuroimaging After Severe Brain Injury”     April 29, 2015

Charles Weijer, M.D., Ph.D. Professor Philosophy, University of Western Ontario


“Effective Altruism”     February 25, 2014

Peter Singer. Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics, Princeton University


“Can We Sustain Democracy and the Planet Too?”     March 12, 2014

Philip Kitcher. Dewey Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University 


“The Aims of Education” Panel   April 20, 2013

  • “Revising the Aims of Education”, Michael Tiboris, UC San Diego
  • “Molding Conscientious, Hard-Working, and Perseverant Students”, Jennifer Morton, Professor of Philosophy, The City College of New York
  • “Education in Human Values: Are There Standards of Humanity and Ethics in Education and Teacher Preparation?”, John Johnson, Professor of Education, San Diego State University
  • “Making Meaning Out of the School Day”, Dan Lang, Head of Francis Parker Middle School
  • “High Commitment Charter Schools and Principles of Educational Justice”, Gina Schouten, Professor of Philosophy, Illinois State University


“War Ethics” Panel   March 1-2, 2013

  • Helen Frowe, University of Kent; Commentator: David Reed Mapel, University of Colorado-Boulder
  • Adil Ahmad Haque, Rutgers School of Law; Commentator: François Tanguay-Renaud,Osgoode Hall Law School, York University
  • Seth Lazar, Australian National University; Commentator: Saba Bazargan, UC San Diego
  • Larry May, Vanderbilt University and Law School; Commentator: Kai Draper, University of Delaware
  • Jeff McMahan, Rutgers University; Commentator: Richard Arneson, UC San Diego
  • David Rodin, Institute for Ethics, Law, and Armed Conflict, Oxford University; Commentator: Mattias Iser, Goethe University, Frankfurt
  • Nancy Sherman, Georgetown University; Commentator: Bradley Strawser, US Naval Postgraduate School
  • Victor Tadros, University of Warwick School of Law; Commentator: Dana Nelkin, UC San Diego


“Our Duties to Distant Needy Persons”   November 3, 2012

  • “Fortune and Fairness in Global Economic Life”, Aaron James, Professor of Philosophy, UC Irvine. Commentator: Richard Arneson, Professor of Philosophy, UC San Diego.
  • “Reconsidering Singer’s Drowning Child Example”, Douglas Portmore, Professor of Philosophy, Arizona State University. Commentator: K. Violet McKeon, UC Irvine.

Ethics in the Public Sphere archive