We are delighted to have invited Professor Henry Shue from Oxford University as the presenter for PTRG yesterday. In the presented paper, Professor Shue critically reflects upon his earlier argument: that it is important to make a distinction between ‘subsistence emissions’ and ‘luxury emissions’, and that this distinction should be incorporated into climate policy intended to achieve mitigation. ‘Subsistence emissions’ are emissions necessary for securing the basic right to subsistence, whereas ‘luxury emissions’ are those that exceed a minimally adequate level of emission. According to Professor Shue, it is morally unacceptable to ask the poor to sacrifice subsistence emissions so that the affluent can maintain their luxury emissions. Continue reading →
How are we to judge actions, inactions and rationalisations of people who find themselves in a murky grey zone of complicity with violence? What does ethics demand of us in dreadful, even impossible, situations? The film series explores cinematic depictions that bring the thorny issue of complicity to the fore, focusing on Nazi-occupied France, apartheid South Africa, Argentina’s Dirty War and Communist Romania. In selecting these four critically acclaimed films, we aim to provoke reflection on ambiguous aspects of violence and human rights abuses. A guiding premise of the event is that reckoning with such experiences is essential to learning from past atrocities and preventing future catastrophes.
On the 13th of January 2017, doctoral students from Edinburgh and St Andrews Universities met in Edinburgh University’s School of Social and Political Science for the day-long collaborative PhD Political Theory Workshop. We covered a wide range of issues in political theory including genealogy, intellectual history, gender and moral agency, methodology of political theory, global justice and responsibility, caring cosmopolitanism and narratives, issues in liberalism, and rights theory. Continue reading →
On 18 November 2016, the Just World Institute (with the support of Edinburgh University’s Social Responsibility and Sustainability) organised an Ethics Forum with the title ‘Should universities restrict civil disobedience and student activism?’.
Read our report below.
Universities are often a central place for student activism. In recent years, the University of Edinburgh has seen occupations, campaigns, and actions that have put students in confrontation with University management. Across the UK, there have been cases of students being arrested, prosecuted, and suspended for disobedience and activism on their campuses. How tolerant should universities be towards student activism and disobedience? What role does protest serve in higher education institutions? Continue reading →
On 21 October, the Just World Institute (with the support of Social Responsibility and Sustainability at the University of Edinburgh) organised an Ethics Forum with the title ‘Should Universities Revisit their Colonial Legacies?’. Four speakers presented their views: Dr Nuala Zahedieh (History), Dr Emile Chabal (History), Dr Hazel Gray (African Studies), and Dr Hugh McDonnell (Politics). Read Dr Hugh McDonnell’s talk below:
“The days of Britain having to apologise for its colonial history are over. We should move forward.” So announced former student in the history department here at Edinburgh – Gordon Brown. Speaking in 2005, his remarks chimed with a growing trend of revived imperialism, enlisting a range of opinion from Tony Blair’s advisor Robert Cooper, historian Niall Ferguson, Michael Gove, and even travel presenter Michael Palin.
What is to Be Done? Political Ontology, Critique and Democratic Politics Roundtable,University of Edinburgh, 18th November 2016
(L-R: Mihaela Mihai, Oliver Marchart, Aletta Norval, Lois McNay)
On 18th November, the University of Edinburgh hosted a roundtable entitled What is to Be Done? Political Ontology, Critique and Democratic Politics. The roundtable investigated the exciting linkages between inquiries into the ontological underpinnings of politics, and the possibilities and limitations of critique at the present historical juncture. It brought together three renowned scholars on the topic – Aletta Norval (University of Essex), Lois McNay (University of Oxford) and Oliver Marchart (University of Vienna) – who were invited to address three interrelated questions:
Ancient Greek ethicists assumed that human beings have a single overarching supreme good, which is eudaimonia, or ‘happiness’, and that this is the final end of every human action. On the Epicurean view, eudaimonia, or in Latin felicitas, or in English ‘felicity’, consists in the state of being free from pain and a life of pleasure.
Many of us give time or money to good causes. Often we have a personal motivation for the giving, such as raising funds for our child’s school, or for a medical charity that supports a sick friend or relative. But many of us also give to those with whom we have no connection: the victims of a far-away natural disaster; or those in distant parts of the world suffering harsh poverty. Individuals of limited means and the staggeringly wealthy give freely to help others in need. Carnegie’s wealth funded many libraries and other educational establishments around the world; the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation helps those in developing countries suffering from disease and poverty. Continue reading →