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All Previous Events

by admin Feb 13, 2015

The End of All Things: A Phenomenology of Elemental Time

When: Mar 31, 2017 at 3:30 PM
Where: 401 Steidle Building, University Park, PA 16802

Ted Toadvine, Nancy Tuana Director of the Rock Ethics Institute, presents his Inaugural Lecture. The End of All Things: A Phenomenology of Elemental Time - Read More…

Rock Colloquia Series: Developing Robots that Learn How to be Ethical

When: Mar 30, 2017 at 12:00 PM
Where: 133 Sparks Building, University Park, PA 16802

This talk presents preliminary methods focusing on the goal of creating a robot which learns, adheres, adopts, and enforces social and ethical norms. The developing field of Machine Ethics examines the possibility of creating autonomous robots which act ethically. Two methods have been proposed by the field. Explicitly ethical robots follow predefined ethical rules (such as the laws of war) which govern and delimit their behavior (Arkin, Ulam, Wagner, 2012). Implicitly ethical robots, on the other hand, learn how to act ethically by interacting with the people around them. In addition to providing background related to the RoboEthics and Machine Ethics Fields, the presentation will focus on preliminary ideas related to the creation of implicitly ethical robots, the philosophical ramifications of doing so, and possible practical applications. Rock Colloquia Series: Developing Robots that Learn How to be Ethical - Read More…

Job Talk - Eco Camp: Queer(ing) Environmental Ethics in the Anthropocene

When: Mar 30, 2017 at 9:30 AM
Where: 216 Willard Building, University Park, PA 16802

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. Job Talk - Eco Camp: Queer(ing) Environmental Ethics in the Anthropocene - Read More…

Job Talk - Fishy Behavior: A Field Experiment on (Dis)honesty in the Marketplace

When: Mar 29, 2017 at 1:00 PM
Where: 12 Katz Building, University Park, PA 16802

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. Job Talk - Fishy Behavior: A Field Experiment on (Dis)honesty in the Marketplace - Read More…

Caring Across Species: Cripping Animal Ethics

When: Mar 24, 2017 at 3:30 PM
Where: Foster Auditorium, 102 Paterno Library, University Park, PA 16802

Through painting, printmaking, writing and other forms of political and artistic engagement, Taylor's work intervenes with dominant historical narratives of disability and animal oppression. This talk examines points of intersection between disability studies, animal ethics, and environmental studies, asking how art and creative research can open up new avenues of solidarity across species and ability.  Caring Across Species: Cripping Animal Ethics - Read More…

Rock Colloquia Series: Empathy is a choice - The limits of empathy are more apparent than real

When: Mar 16, 2017 at 12:00 PM
Where: 133 Sparks Building, University Park, PA 16802

Empathy, or the ability to feel what others feel, is often seen as a powerful moral force. But what are its limits? Many studies find that empathy is less sensitive to large-scale suffering (e.g., natural disasters, genocides) and the suffering of racial and political out-groups. These empathy deficits have led some scholars to argue against empathy, concluding that it is an unreliable basis for moral action. In this talk, he suggest that limits on empathy are more apparent than real: what appear to be built-in “glitches" in empathy may instead be due to motivated choices we make to avoid empathy’s costs. He will present a motivational framework for understanding empathy, and will discuss evidence that seemingly fixed limits on empathy can shift depending on what we want, and choose, to feel. If empathy limits are flexible choices rather than fixed constraints, this challenges strong normative arguments against the usefulness of empathy in everyday life. He will conclude by discussing implications for ethical debates about empathy and future directions in research on empathy as a choice. Rock Colloquia Series: Empathy is a choice - The limits of empathy are more apparent than real - Read More…

Job Talk - How much energy do we 'need'? Assessing the climate development conflict

When: Mar 13, 2017 at 1:00 PM
Where: 12 Katz Building, University Park, PA 16802

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. Job Talk - How much energy do we 'need'? Assessing the climate development conflict - Read More…

Job Talk - The economic impacts of large-scale water infrastructure improvements in urban Zarqa, Jordan

When: Mar 02, 2017 at 1:00 PM
Where: 12 Katz Building, University Park, PA 16802

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. Job Talk - The economic impacts of large-scale water infrastructure improvements in urban Zarqa, Jordan - Read More…

Job Talk - Global Grains: Feed, Food, and the World Economy

When: Mar 01, 2017 at 1:00 PM
Where: 12 Katz Building, University Park, PA 16802

Philosophy and Diversity: Implications and Questions for Education

When: Feb 28, 2017 at 12:00 PM
Where: 301 D Huck Life Sciences Building, University Park, PA 16802