UCD Centre for Ethics in Public Life

UCD Centre for Ethics in Public Life

By UCD Centre for Ethics in Public Life
Talks and interviews by members of the UCD Centre for Ethics in Public Life on ethical questions of wide social interest.
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Public Lecture: Rowland Stout - The Role of Empathy in our Moral Life
This is the audio from a public lecture delivered 25 February 2020 at Newman House, University College Dublin. Empathy is the capacity to see how things are for someone else from their perspective.  It is treated in management self-help books as a useful skill that enables you to get your way with people and make better deals.  It is treated in psychology as a feature of Emotional Intelligence (EQ).  Doctors are encouraged to develop their empathy, which in this context is the same as 'bedside manner' in order to be more effective.  Relationship counselors work with couples to help them empathise with one another, so that they can stay together.   And moral philosophers have often argued that empathy is the basis of the capacity to be a moral agent; it is what enables us to be altruistic in the first place.  Recently, though, there has been a backlash against empathy, with an influential book by Paul Bloom arguing that empathy hinders good moral action rather than helping it.  This is because empathy leads to partiality.  People guided by empathy might be inclined to help only those people they can be empathic towards - thus excluding from their moral concern those who are too different or too far away to be engaged with emotionally.  In this talk we will explore whether empathy really is an essential aspect of moral agency. Professor Rowland Stout is a member of the Royal Irish Academy, Director of the UCD Centre for Ethics in Public Life and a Professor in the UCD School of Philosophy.  He has written books about the philosophy of mind and numerous papers on ethics, metaphysics, and the philosophy of mind. His current project is a book on the philosophy of emotions.
40:10
May 25, 2020
Public Lecture: Christopher Cowley - The Ethics of Ignorance and Clumsiness
This is the audio from a public lecture delivered 18 February 2020 at Newman House, University College Dublin. A previous episode of this podcast was a short interview with Prof Crowley on the topic of this lecture. If somebody harms me deliberately, I blame them. Now for blame to 'work', I have to assume that they understood enough of what they were doing, and that they were free enough to refrain from doing it. In other words, I assume they chose to harm me. But what if they are ignorant and therefore did not understand what they were doing? Sometimes I blame them, sometimes I might excuse them for their ignorance. How does that work? And what if they are clumsy, or insensitive, or unimaginative, or just plain stupid? How much can I blame them for such cognitive defects? This lecture will look at these kinds of fault, both in morality and in the criminal law. Christopher Cowley teaches the philosophy of law and the philosophy of autobiography at the UCD School of Philosophy.
39:12
May 22, 2020
Public Lecture: Maeve Cooke - Ethics in the Age of Climate Change
This is the audio from a public lecture delivered 11 February 2020 at Newman House, University College Dublin. In this talk I propose a certain kind of ethical perspective for orienting socio-political thinking and practice in the age of climate change. I start from the premise that the most serious challenge facing humans today is rapid anthropogenic climate change, specifically the imminent destruction of the Earth’s life-generating and life-sustaining ecosystems due to collective human activity over several hundred years. It calls on humans globally fundamentally to rethink their ethics and their politics. The specific question addressed in my talk is: What would an appropriate ethical frame for a transformed and transformative politics look like? In response to this question, drawing on the resources of Frankfurt School Critical Theory, I sketch what I call an ethically non-anthropocentric ethics. Maeve Cooke is Professor of Philosophy at University College Dublin, Ireland and a member of the Royal Irish Academy. Her current research interests centre on the relation between freedom and authority, and on related questions of protest, resistance and violence. She is also exploring questions that arise for critical social thinking in the Anthropocene. She has published two monographs in critical social theory: Language and Reason: A Study of Habermas’s Pragmatics (MIT Press, 1994) and Re-Presenting the Good Society (MIT Press, 2006) and is the author of many articles in the areas of social and political philosophy. She is on the editorial board of a number of scholarly journals, and has held visiting appointments at leading universities in the USA and Europe.
42:05
May 20, 2020
Public Lecture: Brian O'Connor -Work and Idleness
This is the audio from a public lecture delivered 4 February 2020 at Newman House, University College Dublin. During the age of Enlightenment new types of criticisms of idleness began to appear. Philosophers opposed idleness not on the traditional ground that it would require others to work. Rather it prevented each of us from realizing our talents and skills. Idlers were supposedly akin to 'savages' and 'barbarians'. This talk looks at some of the strange and biased arguments against idleness found among these philosophers. Brian O'Connor is Full Professor of Philosophy at University College Dublin. He is the author of Idleness: A Philosophical Essay (Princeton 2018) together with a number of other monographs and edited volumes on Modern German Philosophy.
43:28
May 19, 2020
Interview: Silvia Panizza - What It Means to Pay Attention
Dr Silvia Panizza gives an interview with Dr Christopher Cowley about the public lecture she was going to give as part of the CEPL series, on the deeper ethical import of what you pay attention to and how you do it. How can attention be morally good? Are there good and bad kinds of attention, and good and bad objects of attention? And what does it really mean to attend or to give attention in an ethical manner? This podcast discusses these questions drawing on Dublin-born philosopher Iris Murdoch. Silvia Panizza is a Teaching Fellow in ethics and Christopher Cowley an Assistant Professor, both at the UCD School of Philosophy. Both are members of the UCD Centre for Ethics in Public Life
20:05
April 24, 2020
Interview: Christopher Cowley - The Ethics of Ignorance and Clumsiness
Dr Christopher Cowley gives an interview with Dr Silvia Panizza about his talk on The Ethics of Ignorance and Clumsiness. If somebody harms me deliberately, I blame them. Now for blame to 'work', I have to assume that they understood enough of what they were doing, and that they were free enough to refrain from doing it. In other words, I assume they chose to harm me. But what if they are ignorant and therefore did not understand what they were doing? Sometimes I blame them, sometimes I might excuse them for their ignorance. How does that work? And what if they are clumsy, or insensitive, or unimaginative, or just plain stupid? How much can I blame them for such cognitive defects? These kinds of fault appear both in morality and in law, and is the topic for this conversation. Christopher Cowley teaches the philosophy of law and the philosophy of autobiography, and Silvia Panizza is a Teaching Fellow, both at the UCD School of Philosophy. Both are members of the UCD Centre for Ethics in Public Life
13:58
April 21, 2020