COVID-19 Rapid Response Seed Funds Provided By OVPRI

The Office of the President for Research and Innovation (OVPRI) at Virginia Tech provides internal seed funds for projects that address COVID-19.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a paradigm of a collective action problem with significant social, ethical, political, and economic implications (among others).

The PPE Program is happy to collaborate with other researches on campus. Here is more information about the available rapid response seed funding.


PPE Research: Michael Moehler publishes on climate change

Michael Moehler, Director of the PPE Program, published a book chapter on contractarianism and climate change.

The chapter is part of an edited volume on Moral Theory and Climate Change: Ethical Perspectives on a Warming Planet, Ben Eggleston and Dale E. Miller (eds.), Routledge, 139-156.

Here is the abstract of the chapter: Contemporary moral contractarianism originates with Hobbes’s moral theory. When considering the structure of Hobbes’s moral theory, however, it is often argued that moral contractarianism does not justify any specific moral demands concerning questions of climate change because currently no global Leviathan in Hobbes’s sense exists that could enforce any such demands in our world. I do not dispute the fact that currently no global Leviathan in Hobbes’s sense exists in our world. Nevertheless, I argue that Hobbesian moral contractarianism offers an adequate moral framework to guide our considerations concerning questions of climate change. Methodologically, the approach is sufficiently pluralistic to consider ethical and economic considerations as well as political feasibility constraints. Conceptually, I argue that, despite the fact that currently no global Leviathan in Hobbes’s sense exists in our world, a Hobbesian-inspired modus vivendi is sufficient as a starting point to address some of the most pressing issues of climate change in our world. Specifically, I argue that the shift in climate change negotiations from the Kyoto Protocol to the Paris Agreement could be considered to be guided by reasoning that underlies Hobbesian moral contractarianism.

PPE Research: Gil Hersch

Gil Hersch (PPE Postdoctoral Fellow) published an article on “The Need for Governmental Inefficiency in Plato’s Republic,” in The Journal of the History of Economic Thought (forthcoming). Here is an abstract of the article:

In book II of Plato’s Republic, Socrates discusses the cities of necessity and luxury (372d-373a). Discussions of these cities have often focused on citizens desiring more than they need, which creates a demand for luxury. Yet the second part of the equation, which is not usually recognized, is that there must be sufficient supply to meet this demand. The focus of this article is on the importance of supply in the discussion of the first two cities in book II of the Republic. This article argues that the way Plato models the cities makes it the case that a surplus above levels of necessity will be generated from time to time. That the unwanted surplus cannot be spontaneously disposed of entails that the first two cities are institutionally incomplete. A government is needed in order to coordinate the disposal of the surplus supply the city will produce.