Saturday, September 20, 2008

C. Arden Pope III

C. Arden Pope III
Originally uploaded by Center for the Study of Ethics at UVU.

Dr. Pope speaking at the Public Policy and Ethics conference, "Do you have a right to clean air?".

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ken Reagle - Vietnam Veteran and Poet

Ken Reagle - Vietnam Veteran and Poet
Originally uploaded by Center for the Study of Ethics at UVSC.

Ken Reagle opened Tuesday's proceedings by recounting his Vietnam story and reading selected poetry from his book.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Sheldon Smith: Making Babies

Sheldon Smith
Originally uploaded by Center for the Study of Ethics at UVSC.

Sheldon Smith deliviered a presentation today that investigates the issues regarding the government assistance in cases of adoption and infertility treatments. His paper runs through the very large number of controversies relative to adoption and helping other sorts of childless couples get children. He asks whether it is ethical for governments to fund such efforts partially because of the large number of controversies. He admits to raising more questions than he answers. He says that how we answer this issue depends upon many personal factors, including religious biases, political biases and so forth. He admits that despite the controversies that exist surrounding the issue there are other cases, such as war efforts, where we fund things through government programs despite the presence of myriad complicating factors. His desire in this paper was to expound the complications, not solve them.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Wilderness Ethics: "Leave No Trace"

Kim Reynolds
Kim Reynolds

UVSC's Outdoor Education Coordinator, Kim Reynolds and PE & Rec Asst. Professor Betsy Lindley gave a joint presentation on September 13th for the monthly Ethics and Integrity Luncthime Open Discussion called "Wilderness Ethics: Leave no Trace". Lindley and Reynolds described the "Leave No Trace" model and opened the discussion to the students who were in attendence. As the number of hikers in the backcountry escalates, the evolving "Leave No Trace" model becomes more and more important in order to preserve the wilderness for future generations.

Betsy Lindley
Betsy Lindley

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Pierre Lamarche on Levinas's Use of Skepticism

The Center for the Study of Ethics kicked off the Fall 2007 season the evening of September 5th with a paper by Dr. Pierre Lamarche, fresh from his year long sabbatical. Pierre read from an upcoming book a section called: Of a Non Saying that Says Nothing: Levinas and Pyrrhonism.

Pierre Lamarche on Levinas
Pierre Lamarche

Lamarche carefully layed the groundwork for the context of his paper, as the audience was mostly made up of sophomore students enrolled in the mandatory "Ethics and Values" class and then read the paper with his usual wake-you-up style. The groundwork consisted of explaining Levinansian ethics, according to Levinas existing prior to theory (and, specifically, to ontology) and how Levinas used the tradition of skepticism and its recurrence over time to rebut the charge of logical inconsistency, a self-refuting hypothesis, in his theory of ethics. He described the ethic as the basic value in human interaction, one of "I recognize you, human, and open to you without requiring a reciprocal transaction" as well as the promise to do no violence.

In response to the charge of the self-refuting hypothesis Levinas claimed solace in the "eternal return" of skepticism. There is a difference, he explained, between the "saying", which hearers instinctively knew was true, and the "said" which was open to the charge of logical self-refutation.

But others, as Lamarche pointed out, have critiqued Levinas' appeal as doing violence to skepticism. Pierre layed out the "most interesting" form of skepticism, the Pyrrhonian. Rather than a theory, these skeptics practiced "lack of belief" as a therapy rather than as a "theory". The skeptics never wrote down "ideas" but lived a life without beliefs, experiencing but not reducing that experience to belief, to some assertion of truth.

Levinas' violence to the skeptics came from attempting to "make them speak", to make them offer theory, which they eschewed. What Pyrrho did was to live a life unsullied by such notions, and rather act as it seemed he ought. Thus, to great ridicule, he lived with his sister, washed the piglet, and did what other's believed to be "women's work".

Lamarche offered that perhaps Levinas' could solve this problem through scholarship, changing "skepticism" to "negative dogmatism", and thereby avoid the critique. But, he ended his paper by asking a fascinating question: Is there a way that the skeptics actions might look similar to the Levinasian approach of the other? Is the "saying", rather than the "said", the model of action, unbridled and encumbered by belief that the Pyrrhonian lived? He asked in his last line:

Would a response, devoid of belief, to nothing but the other as the other appears, begin to approach a fundamental priority of what is called “ethical” action, over theory, theme, principle, category—a fundamental asymmetry that demonstrates itself in what people actually, thoughtlessly, do?
A wonderfully delicious lecture.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Student Response to Conference by the Faculty: Technology Session

By Blaine Hadfield

A conflict that burdens the ethics of technology is the abstruse nature of technology itself. People are becoming less and less aware of how technology functions within particular applications of industry. As technology becomes better equipped to serve the specific requirements of an industry, it is more difficult to maintain up-date knowledge on the normative role of technology in a broad sense. Furthermore, the progression of technology loads the task of informing oneself with greater difficulty. So that it is not just the case that people are less informed about technology, but that it is more difficult to become so informed. To the extent that this is true, a conversation vis-à-vis the ethics of technology is outside of what most people can speak intelligently about.

Technology is powerful enough to rub up against issues of real ethical consequence. Today’s technology isn’t just exploring how to build a more efficient refrigerator, it seeks to extend life, end life, and grant real intelligence to the tools of our own creation. The problem is that as technology increases in capability, a person seems to be able to say less about the tasks that technology ought to serve. This results because of two reasons. One, people are less informed about what technology can accomplish. For example, there are many who would regard as science fiction the creation of biological robots that, when introduced into the blood stream, may perform medical tasks therein. Yet, nanotechnology is at the moment of this kind of creation. The second reason is that the ethical issues themselves are increasingly nuanced. A person says less about the morality of technology because they are less sure of their own ethical opinions regarding technology as it ought to be employed. For example, a person may have a strong ethical opinion about murder. We should not actively cause death to another. However, medical technology has the power to sustain life. And to the extent that it does, technology gives scenarios that may or may not constitute murder. Whichever stance a person wishes to assume on this issue, they are usually less inclined to maintain the position with the same fervor that would characterize their opinion on murder that is cold blooded. The point is that technology allows for nuanced ethical scenarios; the morality of which people are less decided about.

Thus, it seems as though our technology has outpaced our ethics. In which case, what kind of technology shall slide around our ethical thinking as that thinking fails to understand technology? Is it even possible that technology should be stalled for ethics? How does one legislate for such a pause when one does not understand the purposiveness of technology nor find agreement in ethics? These are difficult questions and yet these conditions are already set into play. And so, we have arrived. We have arrived and are without the answers.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Student Reponse to Joanne Milner's Lecture

By Robert Nelson Follett

Joanne R. Milner was the guest speaker at the cultural seminar on March 7, 2007. As a representative in the state legislature, she has helped represent many ethnic minorities here in the state of Utah. In her presentation, she mentioned a man who was a pivotal exemplar: Grandpa Pete Montoya, an older Hispanic man that showed her the importance of public service. He always cared for those around him and treated them better than himself. He grew produce on a tract of land and always gave the best of the crop to everyone around him and kept the worst for himself. She mentions that it was his example that taught her public service.
She also mentioned that whether we care to admit it or not, it’s a fact our economy is dependent on the Hispanic populations. They are hard workers and do the jobs that a lot of us (societal America) don’t want to do. Many times I’ve thought about the idea that they do the jobs we don’t want to do, but yet we complain that they are encroaching on our jobs and making jobs scarce. I grew up in southeast Idaho and there are a lot of farms that are dependent on the Hispanics in the area. As many businesses move in to the area, many white young adults go and work at these businesses, thus making a shortage of workers for the farms. Who steps up to the plate to take the jobs that we don’t want? The Hispanics. They work hard and do the “low jobs” our society is dependant upon. Rather than judging on skin color or a surname, we should understand the importance these people play in our society and then judge them according to their actions. After all, as long as a job gets done and gets done well, who cares if Rob or Roberto did it?