PPE Speaker Series: Rosa Terlazzo

Rosa Terlazzo from the University of Rochester will give a talk on the topic “Paternalism and Adaptive Preference Interventions.” The talk will take place on November 13, 2019, from 4-5:30pm in Brush Mountain A (Squires Student Center). 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: On standard accounts, adaptive preferences are always bad for us, because they always involve settling for subpar but accessible states of affairs. Adaptive preference interventions, then, will always make their targets better off. But what if adaptive preferences, while always initially bad for people, can become robustly good for them over time as they are incorporated into their identities? In this case, the same adaptive preference intervention may make people newly forming adaptive preferences better off while harming those who have lived with their adaptive preferences for a long time. I propose an incentive-based solution for balancing these interests.

PPE Distinguished Public Lecture: Esther Duflo

Recent co-winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, Professor Esther Duflo, will deliver the 2020 PPE Distinguished Public Lecture at Virginia Tech.

Esther Duflo is the Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics in the Department of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a co-founder and co-director of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL). She is a Research Associate with the National Bureau of Economic Research, serves on the board of the Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development, and is Director of the development economics program of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

Professor Duflo’s research focuses on microeconomic issues in developing countries, including education, access to finance, health, and policy evaluation – taking economics out of the lab to discover the causes of poverty and means to eradicate it. Her book (co-authored with Abhijit Banerjee), Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty, was Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year.

Professor Duflo is the Editor of the American Economic Review and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. She was honored as MacArthur Fellow in 2009, received the John Bates Clark Medal as the best economist under 40 in 2010, and won jointly the Nobel Prize in Economics for her work on global poverty alleviation in 2019.

Professor Duflo is the youngest person and second woman to win the Nobel Prize in Economics. She hopes that “showing that it is possible for a woman to succeed and be recognized for success is going to inspire many, many other women to continue working and many other men to give them the respect that they deserve like every single human being.”

At Virginia Tech, Professor Duflo will speak about her new (co-authored) book, Good Economics for Hard Times, that addresses some of the thorniest social and political problems of our time. The lecture will take place in the Moss Arts Center on April 1, 2020, from 5-7pm. No tickets are required. The lecture will be followed by a public reception and book signing. You are cordially invited to attend.

PPE Research: Thomas Rowe

Thomas Rowe (PPE Postdoctoral Fellow) published an article on “Risk and the Unfairness of Some Being Better Off at the Expense of Others,” in the Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 16 (2019): 44-66. Here is an abstract of the paper:

This paper offers a novel account of how complaints of unfairness arise in risky distributive cases. According to a recently proposed view in distributive ethics, the Competing Claims View, an individual has a claim to a benefit when her well-being is at stake, and the strength of this claim is determined by the expected gain to the individual’s well-being, along with how worse off the individual is compared to others (Voorhoeve and Fleurbaey, 2012: 397). If an individual is at a lower level of well-being than another, their claim to a given benefit is stronger. On this view, the strength of individuals’ claims are a function of their comparative well-being levels. In this paper, I instead argue that competing claims obtain only when a particular relationship obtains between the fates of individuals: that one individual’s gain is at the expense of another. This is a particular complaint that obtains when the fates of individuals are tied together in such a way that inequality that is to the detriment of the person who is worse off is guaranteed (or likely) to obtain. I demonstrate that this complaint arises only when individuals are exposed to a particular type of risk that allows some to gain only if others lose. As such, I propose that complaints of unfairness occur less frequently than we might think if we take the Competing Claims View to be true. A purely comparative view is unable to account for this unique complaint of unfairness. I argue that this complaint is not only independently plausible, but can serve as a foundation for a more general account of competing claims complaints.