Previous ethics events

List of previous ethics-based conferences, seminars and workshops

Conferences and lectures

February 2016 David Miller (University of Oxford), "The Duty to Rescue Boat People"

What duty, if any, do competent governments and their navies and commercial vessels have to rescue migrants attempting dangerous sea crossings, whether in the search for a better life or simply to escape persecution? Recent events in the Mediterranean have sparked fiercely opposed political responses to this question. But is the duty to rescue a strict duty, or should rescue missions be evaluated using consequentialist reasoning? I address this topic by exploring, on the one hand, the conventional duty of rescue at sea under international law and, on the other, the individual duty of Samaritan aid on land. I argue that the rescue of boat people has features that clearly distinguish it from both of these duties, including the possibility of moral hazard, where successful rescues encourage others to make dangerous sea crossings. In consequence, we need to distinguish the duty that falls upon the master of an individual ship from the responsibilities of governments when establishing search-and-rescue missions or responding in other ways to seaborne migration. Unless governments owe person-specific obligations of redress towards migrants, they should be guided by consequentialist reasoning when making these decisions. The paper concludes by suggesting that our responses to the unfolding tragedy in the Mediterranean will be conditioned by our background beliefs about states’ rights to control their borders.

Evaluative language seminars

Generously funded by the AHRC and Eidyn research centre

  • 01 Feb 2013: Mark Schroeder, (University of Southern California), Epistemic Expressivism and the Expressivist Attitude Dialectic
  • 13 Mar 2013: Jennifer Carr, (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), A Puzzle about Iffy 'Ought's
  • 20 Mar 2013: Daniel Whiting, (University of Southampton), Sticks and stones: the semantics and pragmatics of insults and slurs
  • 10 Apr 2013: Nate Charlow, (University of Toronto), Prospects for Expressivism as a Theory of Meaning
  • 17 Apr 2013: Stefano Predelli, (Nottingham University), Slurs and Other Bad Words: a Semantic Perspective
  • 01 May 2013: Pekka Vayrynen, (University of Leeds), Evaluation, Multidimensionality and Context
  • 10 May 2013: Janice Dowell (University of Nebraska at Lincoln)
  • 29 May 2013: James Dreier, (Brown University) and Mark Richard, (Harvard University), Evaluative Language Mini-workshop
  • 07 Jun 2013: Ralph Wedgwood, (University of Southern California), Objective and Subjective 'Ought'