The Rock Ethics Institute

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Job Talk - The economic impacts of large-scale water infrastructure improvements in urban Zarqa, Jordan
by Rob Peeler published Feb 22, 2017 — filed under:
Jordan is a highly water scarce country facing acute sectoral tradeoffs in water use. Consumers in Zarqa, the country’s second most populous urban area, typically receive water from the municipal piped network for fewer than 48 hours each week, and engage in a variety of costly coping strategies to mitigate the effects of water scarcity. Against this backdrop, the Millennium Challenge Corporation entered into a $275 million compact with the government of Jordan, to improve the technical performance of piped water infrastructure, and increase the collection, treatment and reuse of wastewater, with the ultimate goal of increasing water efficiency and reducing poverty. This paper presents early evidence on the effects of the Compact, based on data collected towards the end of the implementation period. We find evidence of several changes in areas subjected to the different infrastructure improvements, including reporting of improved water pressure, increased connection to the sewer network and reduced sewage backups, and substitution of the source of irrigation water in the Jordan Valley. We also find evidence of spillovers within Zarqa, compared to neighboring areas in Amman that are supplied by a separate utility. A key category of anticipated impacts – reduced spending on expensive alternatives to utility water – however does not appear to materialize, possibly due to low confidence in the safety of this network water. Though these results only correspond to short-term effects of this infrastructure improvement, they add to a scant body of rigorous evidence on the benefits of capital-intensive water infrastructure.
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Job Talk - Fishy Behavior: A Field Experiment on (Dis)honesty in the Marketplace
by Rob Peeler published Feb 22, 2017 last modified Mar 16, 2017 01:44 PM — filed under:
We conduct a natural field experiment in fish markets where sellers frequently cheat on weight and face negligible economic penalty. Exploiting exogenous variations in fish prices, an indicator of marginal economic benefit from cheating, we examine how dishonest behavior varies with rising economic benefit from cheating. We find that most sellers cheat but that cheating almost never exceeds ten percent of purchased quantity, and that the value of cheating is small. The data reveal a non-monotonic relationship wherein cheating initially increases and thereafter decreases in the fish price.
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Job Talk - Sodomy's Penumbra
by Rob Peeler published Feb 09, 2016 last modified Feb 10, 2016 04:54 PM — filed under:
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Job Talk - Promoting Moral Development in Adolescence through Educational Interventions
by Rob Peeler published Dec 07, 2015 — filed under:
There is an intensifying necessity for focusing on moral education in order to address pressing issues among adolescents such as civic and moral engagement and bullying behavior. Stories of morally great people are one of the most frequently utilized tools for moral education. Moral educators draw from these stories in order to provide models or exemplars for adolescents to emulate. However, previous social psychological studies have demonstrated that the mere presentation of moral stories may backfire, particularly when the stories present extraordinary moral exemplars. My research develops and tests effective moral education methods using stories of moral exemplars that maximize moral developmental outcomes while minimizing the possibility of negative repercussions based on developmental and social psychology and neuroscience. First, I conducted neuroimaging studies in order to identify which psychological processes are involved in moral inspiration induced by moral stories. This included a meta-analysis of previously published neuroimaging studies of human morality and a functional neuroimaging experiment focusing on the neural correlates of moral affection and moral motivation. Second, I performed psychological interventions targeting and tweaking the psychological processes identified by the previous neuroimaging studies. The purpose was to examine which type of moral stories effectively promoted the development of students’ moral motivation to engage in moral behavior. I conducted both a lab-level and classroom-level intervention experiment to test whether the intervention model could effectively promote students’ moral development in school settings.
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Job Talk: Decision making of autonomous systems in aerospace and automotive applications
by Rob Peeler published Apr 15, 2016 last modified Apr 15, 2016 12:51 PM — filed under:
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Job Talk - International Water and Food Security:  Performance Evaluation and Assessment of Research Needs
by Rob Peeler published Feb 23, 2016 — filed under:
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Job Talk - Eco Camp: Queer(ing) Environmental Ethics in the Anthropocene
by Rob Peeler published Mar 01, 2017 last modified Mar 15, 2017 12:37 PM — filed under:
This presentation explores queer environmentalism in the Anthropocene, a word increasingly used to describe the anthropogenic destruction of ecosystems that marks our current geological era. Taking as my subject the contemporary ecosexuality movement, I think the queer and the ecological together to examine how ecosexuality answers the Anthropocene’s call to responsibility and action. I contend that ecosexuality’s concurrent urgency and playfulness embodied in a theatrical environmental sensibility I deem ­eco-camp exemplifies a carnivalesque ecological flourishing. While ecosexual thought and experience do not necessarily move us beyond the human, they do challenge human exceptionalism through a mode of florid performance, spectacle, and ostentatious sex-positivity that champions new forms of relationality between humans and other earthly inhabitants. Drawing on Mikhail Bakhtin’s carnivalesque (1968) and Chris Cuomo’s feminist ethics of flourishing (1998), I argue that ecosexuality’s campy ecological ethics offer an alternative to the didacticism and moralism that characterize much contemporary environmentalism. In the spirit of carnival, the tragi-comic and, at times, parodic tone of this eco-queer performance art generates an affective dissonance that spurs us to feel the full effects of our discordance with nature. I maintain that this irreverent environmentalism is capable of resonating with crisis-weary viewers so accustomed, if not immune, to the alarms of ecological catastrophe. Ultimately, ecosexuality’s campy eco-erotics simultaneously entertain and bewilder, stirring an unsettling array of responses apropos for these unsettling times.
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Job Talk - Moral Development and Social Exclusion in Intergroup Contexts
by Rob Peeler published Dec 07, 2015 — filed under:
Children apply concepts of fairness and concern for other's welfare from a very early age. Exclusion of peers from different social groups (e.g., race, ethnicity, nationality, gender), however, occurs throughout development. In intergroup situations, children learn how to coordinate between moral concerns and their developing social group identities. This talk highlights instances in which children and adolescents apply morality to challenge social exclusion. In particular, focus will be drawn to the factors that promote the use of morality in intergroup peer interactions.
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Job Talk - Individual differences in moral judgment development: A social domain approach
by Rob Peeler published Dec 07, 2015 last modified Dec 17, 2015 04:39 PM — filed under:
Learning to appreciate moral principles regarding harm, justice, and fairness towards others is a fundamental task of children’s social development. While decades of research has documented normative aspects of moral judgment development, surprisingly little contemporary research has examined processes associated with individual variability in children’s judgments and reasoning about situations entailing harm. Drawing on concepts and methods from social domain theory, the current presentation will discuss research aimed at understanding the nature and implications of individual differences in children’s understanding of moral norms. This includes examining links between moral understanding and aggression during the preschool and early school years, as well as the role of psychological knowledge in evaluations of complex moral situations in middle childhood.
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