PPE Speaker Series: J.P. Messina

J.P. Messina from the University of New Orleans will give a talk on the topic “The Ethics and Politics of Private Censorship.” The talk will take place on December 4, 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: Concerns about censorship have shifted away from the state and toward censorship by private parties (e.g., employers, social media companies, TV networks, twitter campaigns, and restrictive social norms). Regardless of its particular form, private censorship has generated roughly two families of response. The first is to call for legislation that would protect persons from the restrictions in question, perhaps by extending the reach of the first amendment (in U.S. contexts) to prevent infringement by private parties. The second is to deny that non-state agents can censor in ways that wrong others, and that in cases of so-called private censorship we have merely so many instances of private parties exercising their rights. This talk defends the claim that both reactions are mistaken in important ways but correct in others. Those concerned about private censorship are wrong to think that it should be treated analogously with state censorship, but correct to think that censorship by private parties involves something of crucial moral and political importance. Those who think that talk of private censorship is much ado about nothing are wrong in this, but correct to think that the parties involved often act well-within the boundaries of their moral rights. The talk concludes by characterizing various principles that govern the permissibility of private censorship.

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 Speaker Series: Charmaine Chua

Charmaine Chua from the University of California, Santa Barbara, will give a talk on the topic “Fast Circulation, Slow Life: The Racial Fix of Logistics.” The talk will take place on October 2, 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: Mainstream understandings of “race” and racism often fail to interrogate the relationship between “race” and class. Such approaches often insufficiently understand the horizon of racial equality to be the inclusion of the previously excluded into the market, positing the economy as fundamentally race-neutral. In this lecture, I argue that racial inequality is not only reproduced through capitalist markets but fundamentally constitutes and structures the rules of the economy. I make this argument through an interrogation of the rapid growth of the just-in-time logistics economy. Drawing from ethnographic field work on board a container ship, I show that racism structures burgeoning and accelerating global supply chains in three ways: First, through the colonial legacy of market-based contracts; Second, through states’ own promotion of racialized stereotypes of its people; Third and finally, through the self-exploitation of logistics workers who internalize racialized rationalizations of their capacity to work. Taken together, my ethnographic account suggests that racism can only be fully understood as a component of racial capitalism (Robinson 2000), circulating through our lives through both structural and subjective domination, necessitating that we understand racial capitalism as a “technology of antirelationality” (Melamed 2015) that alternative visions of collective life must seek to undo.

 

PPE Speaker Series: Michael Douma

Michael Douma from Georgetown University will give a talk on the topic “Creative Historical Thinking.” The talk will take place on April 10, 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.

The talk will be based on Professor Douma’s new book Creative Historical Thinking (Routledge, 2018). It will entail an interactive presentation about what it means for a historian to be creative and how to think about history in new ways and explore topics such as visualizations of time in spatial form, creative classroom diagrams, and the history of why men stopped wearing hats.

PPE Speaker Series: Douglas Noonan

Douglas Noonan, a PPE Visiting Research Scholar from Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis, will give a talk on the topic “Freeing the Freelancers: Innovation, Crowds, and Markets.”

The talk is co-organized with the Center for Humanities and will take place on February 6, 2019, from 4-5:30pm in the Squires Student Center (Brush Mountain A). 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: Crowdfunding has grown in popularity in recent years, and it offers a useful vantage point to observe some major forces at play in our economy and communities. How does crowdfunding tap into the wisdom of the masses and leverage the crowd? What kind of entrepreneurship uses crowdfunding, and how does that relate to more conventional entrepreneurship? As an innovation itself, how and where might we expect crowdfunding platforms to spur more innovation? Examining crowdfunding platforms as new marketplaces can help highlight some important insights about the power of markets, crowds, and geography.

This talk brings together several studies about entrepreneurship among freelancers and how and where new platforms like Kickstarter can catalyze innovation. Preliminary data analysis indicates a stronger draw for marketplaces like Kickstarter in markets where labor regulations are more restrictive. Further, smaller markets are disproportionately drawn to Kickstarter as it expands the audience for niche products thereby reducing minimum scales needed to launch. Expanding markets and reducing frictions enables these new ventures, and freeing these freelancers reflect the wisdom (and power) of the crowds. The crowd’s influence in individual projects can also be seen in the aggregate when examining where crowdfunding activity occurs. The world is still not flat, and clusters of economic activity – crowds – still drive successful crowdfunding locations.

Yet the geography of crowdfunding is not merely a mapping of people, wealth, human capital, and industry concentrations. First, the number of Kickstarter campaigns in any given city or town is rather evenly spread around the U.S. and Canada, while the total amount of funds raised or the total number of backers for campaigns in those cities and towns is far more geographically concentrated. Ideas can be found anywhere, but successful ideas tend to cluster where economic activity does. Second, digital media projects (e.g., music, videos) tend to geographically cluster more than location-specific projects (e.g., community gardens, theaters). Third, the hotspots of crowdfunding map onto pre-existing clusters of population and economic activity differently for digital media projects than for location-specific projects. The digital media projects cluster more than economic activity does, making a spiky world spikier. Crowdfunded innovations in digital media tend to concentrate more in a few big markets, as creators have freedom to relocate to key hubs while still being able to reach global markets. Conversely, the local projects tend to flatten out the already spiky world. For these location-specific projects, the new online crowdfunding marketplace tends to serve more geographically dispersed crowds.

PPE Speaker Series/Advancing the Human Condition Symposium: William A. Darity

William A. Darity, the Samuel DuBois Cook Professor of Public Policy in the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University, will give a PPE Talk on the topic “Bold Policies for Social Change.” The talk will also serve as the Keynote Lecture for the Advancing the Human Condition Symposium at Virginia Tech.

The talk will place on November 28, 2018, from 4-5:30pm in the Latham Ballroom (Inn 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 full program of the 2018 Advancing the Human Condition Symposium.

PPE Speaker Series: Dan Shahar

Dan Shahar from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will give a talk on the topic “Are We Morally Obligated to Restrict Our Carbon Footprints?” The talk will take place on November 7, 2018, from 4-5:30pm in 155 Goodwin Hall. 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: For those who worry about climate change, our ‘carbon footprints’ are a major concern. According to a common view, individuals have an ethical obligation to restrict their contributions to climate change even in the absence of public policies that tackle the problem. But does this view accurately capture our moral duties? In this talk, Dan Shahar will argue that individuals are not obligated to act unilaterally to restrict their carbon footprints and, moreover, trying to convince people to reduce their carbon footprints is a misguided way to fight climate change. If Shahar is right, then climate activists may need to fundamentally revise the way they think about our moral obligations in a rapidly warming world.

PPE Speaker Series: Jessica Flanigan

Jessica Flanigan from the University of Richmond will give a talk on the topic “Pharmaceutical Freedom.” The talk takes place on October 17, 2018, from 4-5:30pm in 155 Goodwin Hall. 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 (and book): If a competent adult refuses medical treatment, physicians and public officials must respect her decision. Coercive medical paternalism is a clear violation of the doctrine of informed consent, which protects patients’ rights to make medical decisions even if a patient’s choice endangers her health. The same reasons for rejecting medical paternalism in the doctor’s office are also reasons to reject medical paternalism at the pharmacy, yet coercive medical paternalism persists in the form of premarket approval policies and prescription requirements for pharmaceuticals.

In Pharmaceutical Freedom Jessica Flanigan defends patients’ rights of self-medication. Flanigan argues that public officials should certify drugs instead of enforcing prohibitive pharmaceutical policies that disrespect people’s rights to make intimate medical decisions and prevent patients from accessing potentially beneficial new therapies. This argument has revisionary implications for important and timely debates about medical paternalism, recreational drug legalization, human enhancement, prescription drug prices, physician assisted suicide, and pharmaceutical marketing. The need for reform is especially urgent as medical treatment becomes increasingly personalized and patients advocate for the right to try. The doctrine of informed consent revolutionized medicine in the twentieth century by empowering patients to make treatment decisions. Rights of self-medication are the next step.

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 Speaker Series: Marion Fourcade

Marion Fourcade from the University of California Berkeley will give a talk on the topic “Faust in the Digital Era.” The talk takes place on March 21, 2018, from 4-6 PM in 135 Goodwin Hall. 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: The modern digital economy is built upon an implicit Faustian bargain: companies provide online services for free, and individuals ‘pay’ them back by signing intrusive terms of service that provide access to their personal data. The data is then refined and recombined to sort individuals into marketing niches, skill sets, rankings and reputations, and more. It is used for price discrimination, product differentiation, and the distribution of financial and symbolic rewards and penalties. This presentation will provide an overview of these new sorting processes, and of their existing and potential consequences for how we think about inequality in today’s society.