Category Archives: Social Responsibility

Ethics Forum: Should universities restrict civil disobedience and student activism?

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

Tim Hayward – Can Benign Leverage Be Relied On to End Global Poverty?

PTRG seminar: Can Benign Leverage Be Relied On to End Global Poverty? 9 November 2016

(Source: Radio Okapi, flickr, CC BY 2.0)

(Source: Radio Okapi, flickr, CC BY 2.0)

Should people maximize the good they can do by earning much money as they can, so they can donate as much as they can to charitable programs? This is the argument of Effective Altruism. This view seems perfectly right to us, but Professor Tim Hayward holds the opposite view. The theme of his paper Can Benign Leverage be Relied on to End Global Poverty is to challenge benign leverage, the assumption of Effective Altruism and to show that it is a problematic solution to overcoming global poverty.

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Elizabeth Cripps – Justice, Integrity and the Green Parenting Duty

Political Theory Research Group series 2016/17: 12 October

Source: Vinoth Chandar (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Source: Vinoth Chandar (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

This week we had the pleasure of discussing Dr Elizabeth Cripps’ paper, which introduced the idea of a “green parenting duty” as a requirement of climate justice and of respecting one’s child as a future moral agent. The work is to be presented later this month at the Aristotelian Society.

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Why shouldn’t Scottish prisoners get to vote?


With the referendum for Scottish independence upcoming, my question has three possible contexts of application: it could be about the position of Scottish prisoners as nationals of the United Kingdom in political elections; it could be about Scottish prisoners under independent Scottish jurisdiction; or it could concern the say of Scottish prisoners in the decision on which of those other two contexts applies after September.  This last question is particularly interesting because it opens onto some deeper issues about what it means to be part of the Scottish people at this time of potential constitutional change.

I was prompted to this reflection following a recent group visit to HMP Shotts, at the invitation of prison governor Jim Kerr, to learn about the nature and conditions of prisoners’ work there. (It was an enlightening experience, as Liz Cooper has described in her blog).  The topic of voting didn’t come up, but more substantial issues about prisoners’ relations to the wider society did. Continue reading