PPE Research: Gil Hersch

Gil Hersch, a postdoctoral fellow in the PPE Program, will give a lunch-time talk that is organized by the Center for Humanities.

Dr. Hersch will speak about the topic “Can Your Boss Make You Work Out?”. The talk will take place on April 9, 2019, at noon in the Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Building (Room 005).

Here is an abstract of the talk: To what extent is corporate-level paternalism legitimate? Since there has been an increase in both quantity and variety of corporate-level wellness programs and workplace well-being policies in recent years, this is an important question to address. I compare corporate-level paternalism with state-level paternalism, and argue that the former is more permissible than the later. Consequently, if paternalistic policies are deemed legitimate by the state, they can be deemed fair game for corporations. To make this argument I rely on the difference between citizens, for whom the main expressive tool available is ‘voice,’ and employees, for whom ‘exit’ is the main expressive tool available (Hirschman, 1970). Focusing only on this difference, I argue that paternalistic policies are more permissible when the employee can avoid them through ending their relationship with the corporation (exit) than they are when the citizen can influence whether the paternalistic policy is implemented (voice).

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.

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.

PPE Research: Michael Moehler publishes on diversity

Michael Moehler’s (Director of the PPE Program) article on “Diversity, Stability, and Social Contract Theory” is forthcoming with Philosophical Studies. Here is an abstract of the article.

The topic of moral diversity is not only prevalent in contemporary moral and political philosophy, it is also practically relevant. Moral diversity, however, poses a significant challenge for moral theory building. John Thrasher (Synthese, forthcoming), in his discussion of public reason theory, which includes social contract theory, argues that if one seriously considers the goal of moral constructivism and considerations of representation and stability, then moral diversity poses an insurmountable problem for most public reason theories. I agree with Thrasher that moral diversity poses a significant challenge for orthodox multistage social contract theories. In fact, I even add a further problem for such theories under the assumption of deep moral diversity. Nevertheless, I argue that my (Moehler, Minimal morality: a multilevel social contract theory, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2018) recently developed multilevel social contract theory overcomes these problems. I focus on some of the underexplored features of this theory to show that multilevel social contract theory offers one conceptually coherent and plausible way to render social contract theory viable and relevant for modern diverse societies.

PPE Research: Gil Hersch publishes on research ethics

Gil Hersch (PPE Postdoctoral Fellow) published an article on “Educational Equipoise and the Educational Misconception; Lessons from Bioethics” in Teaching and Learning Inquiry, 6(2) 2018, 3-15. Here is an abstract of the article:

Some advances in bioethics regarding ethical considerations that arise in the context of medical research can also be relevant when thinking about the ethical considerations that arise in the context of SoTL research. In this article, I aim to bring awareness to two potential ethical challenges SoTL researchers might face when playing a dual role of teacher and researcher that are similar to the challenges physicians face in their dual role of physician and researcher. In this article, I argue that two commonly discussed concerns in bioethics—the need for clinical equipoise and the possibility of a therapeutic misconception—have analogies when conducting some types of research on students. I call these counterparts educational equipoise and the educational misconception.

PPE Research: Thomas Rowe’s article forthcoming in Philosophy & Public Affairs

Thomas Rowe (PPE Postdoctoral Fellow) and Alex Voorhoeve’s (London School of Economics) article on “Egalitarianism under Severe Uncertainty” has been accepted for publication with Philosophy & Public Affairs. Here is an abstract of the article:

Decision-makers face severe uncertainty when they are not in a position to assign precise probabilities to all of the relevant possible outcomes of their actions. Such situations are common – novel medical treatments and policies addressing climate change are two examples. Many decision-makers respond to such uncertainty in a cautious manner and are willing to incur a cost to avoid it. There are good reasons for taking such an uncertainty-averse attitude to be permissible. However, little work has been done to incorporate it into an egalitarian theory of distributive justice. We aim to remedy this lack. We put forward a novel, uncertainty-averse egalitarian view. We analyse when the aims of reducing inequality and limiting the burdens of severe uncertainty are congruent and when they conflict, and highlight practical implications of the proposed view. We also demonstrate that if uncertainty aversion is permissible, then utilitarians must relinquish a favourite argument against egalitarianism.

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.