Sessions

Abortion

The issue of abortion has dominated religious and political life in the United States since the passage of Roe v. Wade.  The issue cuts to the core of many philosophical, religious and personal concerns.  When does life begin?  What is our duty towards early stages of life?  What about our rights to autonomy over our own bodies?  Wrestling with this issue has altered American culture, the courts and political life.
 
 

Bev Gray
Ofri Leitner
Animal Research and Animal Rights - PM Only

Dilip Barman - Topic description

What relationship do humans have with non-human animals? What kinds of relationships should we strive toward? What kinds of ethical considerations apply?  The session will include a half hour presentation about the philosophical background of animal rights, and

 include some material on animal welfare. We will consider the two short reading assignments and discuss how participants feel about animal issues raised in them. Do animals have "rights"? If so, who endowed them with these rights? Does providing or recognizing rights diminish human rights? Do non-humans serve at our pleasure and for our needs, or do they have an inherent value that goes beyond utility to humans?

Dilip Barman

Session Leader: Dilip Barman readings:

Readings from Tom Regan and Andrew Linzey's 2010 book "Other Nations" (ISBN 978-160258237-8). I would like students to read: > * pp. 117-124, "The Dead Body and the Living Brain" by Oriana Fallaci

Dilip's readings.pdf

Animal welfare vs. animal rights in research & Animal Rights

Animal Rights
Animal welfare vs. animal rights in research
This session will address ethical concerns related to the care and use of laboratory animals in biomedical research. Students will be guided through reality-based animal research case studies that allow them to examine societal and personal factors that influence their opinions about animal research and the animal rights movement.

Dr. Jeff Everitt
Suzanne Wilkison

Animal Research
About Research
            http://www.ncabr.org/aboutresearch/
 
            Ignoring the Role of Animals in Medicine is Shortsighted
            http://speakingofresearch.com/2011/08/30/ignoring-the-role-of-animals-in-medicine-is-narrow-                                   minded/   
 
 
Animal Rights
Why Animal Rights?
            http://www.peta.org/about/why-peta/why-animal-rights.aspx
 
            Biomedical Research
            http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/biomedical_research/
 

Engineering Ethics

Engineering is very specialized and an important profession to society and thus engineers are expected to exhibit high standards of honesty and integrity. This session will address ethical concerns related to the profession and practice of engineering. Students will learn how engineers take responsibility for the quality of the jobs they work on and for the safety and well-being of the public at large. They will examine the Code of Ethics for Professional Engineers and they be guided through case studies that allow them to examine some rules of practice that engineers must follow.

Ershela Sims & Lynn McGee

National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) Code of Ethics for Engineers: http://www.nspe.org/resources/ethics/code-ethics

Ethics and Climate Change

Climate change is arguably the single greatest threat that society faces today. It is a global issue that impacts every person on the planet. In this discussion group we will explore how fairness, justice, equality, responsibility, and resource distribution relate to climate change. We look at the consequences of climate change from both an anthropocentric and a biocentric lens and discuss these implications on local and global scales. We will discuss what constitutes ethically justifiable solutions and approaches to effective implementation. Some discussion questions include: What is our responsibility to other species? How do our personal relationships with each other and our environment influence our ideas about this responsibility? How can we apply values of empathy in a concrete way to help mitigate the effects of climate change?  What is our responsibility to future generations? What do we have to lose/gain from solutions like geo-engineering?
 
AM Session for Chaperones
PM Session for Students

Greta Moore & Jodi Lasseter
Ethics Bowl at NCSSM - Team's only

"This year the NCSSM Ethics and Leadership Conference is hosting an Ethics Bowl competition.  Each team member and the chaperon(s) need to register individually.  The cases will be taken from the ones to be used at the 2015 State Ethics Bowl competition.  The format will be similar but not necessarily identical to that of the state competition.  Rules will be posted at least two weeks prior to the conference, 

Steve Warshaw
Ethics of Medical Persuasion

This session will use a case-based approach to investigate the ethics of physician
communication in counseling patients regarding their medical care.
Learning Objectives:
1. Identify four key principles of modern medical ethics: autonomy, beneficence,
non-maleficence, and justice
2. Identify 3 types of medical persuasion: removal of bias, recommending options,
and creating new biases
3. Understand that how information is communicated has a critical role in physicianpatient
relationships.

Phuong L. Doan, MD
Ethics of Sustainability

Multiple indicators tell us that the global resource boom is now reaching a breaking point. The simple ethos of economic growth—“more is better”—is not sustainable in a world of complex food, water and energy systems that are simultaneously suffering decline. The grand challenge of sustainability is to integrate our decision-making and consumption patterns—along with the need for economic viability— within a sustainable worldview. This will not happen by dumb luck. It will require, first and foremost, proper education. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, universal literacy—reading and writing—was the catch-cry of education reformers. In the twenty-first century, a new global literacy campaign is needed, this time systems literacy, to promote a basic understanding of the complex interdependency of human and natural systems.  But are the ethics of sustainability so clear?  In this session we will explore a few case studies where the ethical and the technical comingle in interesting and perhaps, confusing ways.

Linda Schmalbeck
Ethics of War: Just War Theory

Ethics in War: Just War Theory Should countries respect certain boundaries in warfare? Do countries respect any restrictions or is war a state of unlimited violence where anything goes? This session will explore questions such as these along with possible answers arising from the “just war” tradition. We will talk about various limitations states might place on themselves (target selection, collateral damage likelihoods, weapons employed, and even the decision to go to war.) We will also consider recent developments related to drone warfare.

Mark DuBois

Assigned Reading: http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/war/ . Students read all of the links under the heading “Doctrine of the Just War.” Students should also read about the usage of drones (or unmanned aerial vehicles) in warfare. This link to related stories in the New York Times provides useful reading on the subject.

Factory Farming PM ONLY

Millions of animals are brought into existence every year and used as food for people.  Is there anything intrinsically wrong with raising animals for these purposes, or is it only wrong if we treat them badly before killing them?  We will consider moral questions about eating animals, but focus especially on the controversial practices that comprise “factory farming.”

Jonathan Anomaly

Recommended Readings:
J. Anomaly, “What’s Wrong with Factory Farming?”
http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2392453
 
M. Pollan, “An Animal’s Place”
http://michaelpollan.com/articles-archive/an-animals-place/
 
Recommended podcast:
Peter Singer on the human uses of animals
http://philosophybites.libsyn.com/category/Peter%20Singer

GMOs and genetically modified foods PM ONLY

What are genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and how do they affect what we eat?  Learn how to go beyond the hype in both directions, and be able to talk rationally about both the benefits and risks of GMOs/GM foods.

Adrienne Coix
Google Cars and the New Trolley Problem

The Trolley Problem is one of the most famous thought experiments in moral philosophy. An out-of-control trolley is bearing down on several innocent people. What is the right thing to do, allow them to die or divert the trolley so that it hits and kills only one person? Most people say that the right thing to do is to divert the trolley, but there are a number of interesting puzzles about this case. In this session, after briefly discussing the original puzzle, we will consider a new twist: Suppose we not dealing with a trolley, but with a Google Car. And suppose we are not making a decision at the time of the accident, but rather anticipating the possibility of trolley-problem-like accidents whileprogramming the Google Car. What should we program it to do? What if the choice is not between several lives and a live outside the car, but between several lives and life of the driver?

David Faraci

watch video:
YouTube video on the Trolley Problem: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fs0E69krO_Q.

Internet Ethics

 
Description:More and more, the internet is becoming a part of people’s ordinary lives. We work, play, and socialize online. The rise of the internet as one of the main mediums through which we carry out our lives gives rise to an urgent set of ethical questions. How should we treat people with whom we interact online, many of whom we’ve never met in person and never will meet? What obligations, if any, do we have to speak out against the rampant misogyny, racism, and negative vitriol that is espoused by anonymous users? To what extent is information on the internet private? When does the sharing and re-use of media under the "open source" label become plagiarism? To what extent does access to the internet give us an obligation to use the internet in order to correct our own ignorance? In this session, we will attempt to come to grips with the various factors that might influence how we answer these questions, and will attempt to determine how we ought to work, play, and socialize online.

Jen Kling
Leaders, The Truth, and Comedy News

Many people, especially younger folks, state that they get their “news” from non-traditional sources.  The traditional nightly network news show and a shrinking audience and an aging demographic (just look at who their commercials are targeted).  Into this gap has charged a variety of on-line news sources, and a variety of “Comedy News Shows” including the Emmy Award winning The Daily Show and the Emmy Award Winning The Colbert Report.  Recently Last Week Tonight with John Oliver has joined this ensemble.
            Other than laughing, do LEADERS have any obligation to put extra energy into evaluating some of the assertions these comedy shows make about the states, the nation, and the world we live in?  In addition to having the luxury of picking which storie3s they will present, many times these comedy news shows have the ability to conduct more research into a given topic than the regular nightly news shows can conduct.  Do young North Carolina Leaders have any obligation to weigh for accuracy any of the assertions made in these shows?
Our goal for this session will be to use THREE segments from these artists, break down their reporting for both accuracy relevance, significance, and humor, and see if there is anything a young North Carolina Leader should do with the knowledge we uncover.  Some of the topics that should be available to us and that have specific relevance for North Carolina include Commercial Prisons, drug laws that specifically target minority citizens, Pay-Day Lending, and new voting laws (how do these become “funny” stories?”).

Dave Thaden

no reading assisignments

Political Obligation, or the Moral Duty to Obey the Law

Description:  Many political philosophers have thought that we clearly have a moral obligation to obey the law (not just because certain laws happen to overlap with independent moral obligations, but simply in virtue of law's status as law).  Nonetheless, as the anarchist suggests, it is difficult to see how the coercive enforcement mechanisms of the state could be made consistent with our conceptions of ourselves as free and autonomous.  In this session, we will discuss possible responses to this challenge with the aim of either vindicating our duty to obey the law or accepting the anarchist's conclusion.

Ian Cruise

Readings:  http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/political-obligation/
(Focus on the introduction, Section 3.1, and Sections 4-4.5.)

Starting a Sustainability Project in Your School.

In this session NCSSM students share what they did to design and implement a year-long, school-wide project to enhance the community’s knowledge of how to live more sustainably, reduce the school’s environmental footprint and have fun doing it.
 
Presented by the Sustainability Project Leaders @ NCSSM 
 
AM PRESENTATIONS FOR Students only
PM PRESENTATIONS FOR Chaperones only

NCSSM Students

no readings

Startup Mentality Doesn't Have to Preclude Morality

Does ethics stifle innovation?  This is a point of contention with many things from electronic health records to Facebook’s psychological experiments to every other Google update.  We are living in a world of rapid changing technology but still inequity in educational and economic opportunity.  Innovations in technology with the advent of massive open online and virtual reality courses or access to financial capital via mobile devices can transform the playing field but all of this requires mindful balanced leadership to develop solutions that are not just good for business but also good for communities.

Victoria Nneji

I would like students to: 

*Please read an article from the New York Times, Technology section that you find interesting and relevant to our topic around ethics in innovation.  If you have an issue accessing the source digitally or physically, ask your librarian for assistance.  Be prepared with the title of the article, published date, and a synopsis to contribute to our discussions.

The Science and Ethics of Assisted Reproductive Technology

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is an increasingly common way for people around the world to build their families. Although IVF was first done to help patients who were infertile, IVF is now being performed in fertile patients for more morally ambiguous reasons such as gender selection (i.e. "family balancing") or even the absence (or presence) of certain medical traits. Not surprisingly, many individuals who practice assisted reproductive technology (ART) have suggested that the laws and guidelines surrounding ART have not kept pace with the scientific progress in this area of medicine, and that more substantial discussions need to be made regarding the ethics of reproductive care. In this session, we will examine some ethical dilemmas that are central to the practice of ART as well as discuss possibilities of where this amazing technology may take us in the future.

Jason Yeh
The Trolley Problem: The Many vs The Few

 
The Trolley Problem:  The Many vs The Few
When do the rights and interests of the many outweigh the rights and interests of the few?  The Trolley Problem is a famous philosophical thought experiment that allows us to sharpen our thinking on this difficult question.  The Trolley Problem presents a pair of cases in which we have to choose between the interests of the many and the interests of the few.  Many people respond to the two cases differently; in one case, they think, we ought to act to protect the interests of the many, and in the other case, they think, we ought to protect the interests of the few.  If that's right, then the question arises: What is the philosophically relevant difference between the two cases?  The Trolley Problem is the problem of articulating and explaining that difference.

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Matthew Kotzen
What is Your Utopia?

Description-----You have been chosen to sit on the committee that will “reboot” all of human society. When you have agreed on the perfect society, you will be born into it yourself.  However, you have no idea what gender, race, or ethnicity you will be.  You don’t know if you will be athletic or physically handicapped, intelligent or academically challenged, beautiful or plain, rich or poor.  Now, in what type of society would you like to take your chances?
Let’s explore this thought experiment proposed by John Rawls in his 1971 book A Theory of Justice.

Todd Spiering
When Affirmative Action Was White

Affirmative Action is generally associated with the Civil Rights Movement and African Americans. However, many mainstream populations have historically benefited from government sanctioned policies that advantaged their assent into the middle class with supportive funding measures for home ownership education.

Letita Mason

'When Affirmative Action Was White': Uncivil rights (Nick Kotz)
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/28/books/review/28KOTZL.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
b) Admissions Preferences for Minority Students, Athletes, and Legacies at Elite Universities   (Princeton University)
https://www.princeton.edu/~tje/files/webAdmission%20Preferences%20Espenshade%20Chung%20Walling%20Dec%202004.pdf
 
c) A Definition of Fairness: Affirmative Action (American Civil Liberties Union)
https://www.aclu.org/racial-justice/affirmative-action
 
d) Affirmative Action Has Helped White Women More Than Anyone
http://ideas.time.com/2013/06/17/affirmative-action-has-helped-white-women-more-than-anyone/