Ethics in Science Lecture Series: The Distinctive Significance of Systemic Risk

Speaker: Aaron James, Ph.D., University of California, Irvine

When: Friday, March 6, 2015 – 11:00 am – 12:30 pm 

Where: Philip G Hoffman Hall, Room 232 (PGH 232) Main Campus, University of Houston. (Click for map)

Cost: FREE and open to the public

aaronjamescashThis talk suggests that “systemic risk” (e.g., of financial market collapse, or of ecological calamity) has a distinctive kind of moral significance. Two intuitive data points need to be explained. The first is that the systematic imposition of risk can be wrongful or unjust in and of itself, even if harm never ensues. The second is that, even so, there may be no one in particular to blame. Both ideas can be explained in terms of what James calls responsibilities of “Collective Due Care.” Collective Due Care arguably precludes purely aggregative cost-benefit decision-making, and requires one kind of “precautionary” attitude inAaronJames public choice.

About Professor James:

Aaron James (Harvard PhD, Philosophy, 2001) is Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Irvine. He is author of Fairness in Practice: A Social Contract for a Global Economy (Oxford University Press, 2012), and was awarded the ACLS Burkhardt Fellowship, spending 2009-10 at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University. He was also Visiting Professor of Philosophy at New York University in the fall of 2013.


More information about the Ethics in Science Lecture Series can be found on their website.

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