The Rock Ethics Institute

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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 - 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 - Global Grains: Feed, Food, and the World Economy
by Rob Peeler published Feb 22, 2017 last modified Feb 24, 2017 11:08 AM — filed under:
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Job Talk - How much energy do we 'need'? Assessing the climate development conflict
by Rob Peeler published Feb 22, 2017 last modified Mar 01, 2017 09:46 AM — filed under:
There is both confusion and concern regarding the relationship between poverty eradication and climate change. What impact will rising living standards have on greenhouse gas emissions? Will climate mitigation set back efforts to eradicate poverty? Academic research so far offers limited insights to these questions, partly because of how we frame the problem. There is a growing interest in relating human development directly to climate change, rather than through GDP. One key facet of this inquiry is, how much energy is ‘needed’ to eradicate poverty? In this presentation, I will contrast past and new research approaches, and offer new insights on the energy resource requirements to address multidimensional poverty. I will focus on three themes: first, I will propose the constituents of ‘decent living standards’ – the material requirements for human well-being – drawing from basic needs and capabilities approaches and global ‘preferences’. Second, I will discuss new findings on the potential synergies between eradicating ‘hidden’ hunger and mitigating climate change in India. Third, I will discuss the importance of the interaction between social and energy policies in assessing the equity and poverty impacts of national and international climate policy. This research informs not only future development policy priorities, but also provides a human rights perspective to assess fairness in global mitigation efforts.
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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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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 - Just Borders: Place-Specific Duties and the Rights of Immigrants
by Rob Peeler published Jan 09, 2017 last modified Jan 09, 2017 04:26 PM — filed under:
Does physical presence in a territory confer social and political rights on all those present? Recently, many scholars have argued that legal citizenship cannot be the sole source of rights, and hence they have advocated for place-specific rights for immigrants. These scholars often stress immigrants’ ties to a political community. But, if ties to the political community are the main criterion for rights, then it seems that place and territory do no real work in the argument. In this presentation, I propose that we take place seriously, rather than just treating it as a dummy concept that has membership do the real argumentative work. The talk shows that there are place-specific duties, a special type of duty indexed to place. These duties comprise a level of morality that layfolk intuitively recognize, but theorists routinely overlook. The talk then shows that these place-specific duties cannot be properly fulfilled by citizens unless they grant non-citizens who are present in the locality rights to stay, and also grant them rights to participate in the jurisdiction’s political organization. The talk will conclude by discussing how the thesis of place-specific duties has important implications for theories of immigrants’ rights, normative theories of resource management and environmental stewardship, and theories of territorial jurisdiction and of the justification of the modern state’s territorial boundaries.
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Job Talk - Migration, Social Movements, and the Right to Place
by Rob Peeler published Jan 09, 2017 last modified Jan 09, 2017 04:25 PM — filed under:
Most of the debate about justice in immigration focuses on the dual challenge of mobility and membership, and most contributors to this debate favor more-open borders on either ideal-theoretic grounds such as free movement, or non-ideal theory grounds such as rectificatory justice. The current paper, however, argues that our position on justice in migration should foreground the voices of social movements of dispossessed, landless, and migrant persons. These movements do not tend to prioritize open borders. Instead, they prioritize what can best be characterized as a “right to place.” Building upon the discourses of these social movements, the paper develops the idea of a right to place and argues that theories of justice in migration should prioritize that over any particular border regime. The paper then argues for a ‘movement-led’ methodology, defending this method as against both ideal and non-ideal theory.
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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 - 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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