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  • Jeff Raikes: Interview Highlights | Stanford Center for Ethics in Society
    And it s about meningitis A Meningitis A is a serotype of meningitis that primarily or almost exclusively exists in Sub Saharan Africa There s a belt across the tropics of Africa And effectively those 500 million people that are afflicted or have potential risks of meningitis A are poor people There s no perceived market opportunity Big pharma is not going to invest in the vaccine to help those people So what the Gates Foundation did was it invested with WHO the World Health Organization PATH a global health NGO and Serum Institute a private sector vaccine manufacturing company in India to create a meningitis A vaccine And then proved the efficacy of the vaccine and did it really in pretty record time less than ten years And that is now being rolled out across the meningitis A belt in Sub Suharan Africa and it s estimated to save 150 000 lives or more during the next five years So there s a great example of where there was a market failure we used the concept of catalytic philanthropy to create something that has huge social impact On time horizons of philanthropy and taking risks Reich I know that both the Gates Foundation and you have a view about the time horizon over which people ought to give money back And foundations in general are legally allowed to exist in perpetuity but you ve spoken about the importance of a sunset clause or a pay down Explain why Raikes When philanthropists set up foundations they can make a choice whether they want it to exist in perpetuity or sunset in a certain period of time And the conventional wisdom is that once you get to the third generation you re far enough away from the intent of the original donor that that third generation and beyond may not represent what their intent was And that is a criticism of perpetual foundations I think that s interesting but it s not my biggest issue My biggest issue is that if you go back to that model of catalytic philanthropy we re taking risk That MenAfriVac that could ve been a hundred million dollar failure And we have some of those This was something though that really worked But we took risk And what I m worried about is that once you get to the third generation and beyond almost by definition the institution will be in the hands of trustees who may not and most likely will not want to take that same level of risk because part of their governance responsibility is to protect the reputation of the institution whereas the active donor can feel more free to take the risk Now there s going to be exceptions There ll be perpetual foundations that will have trustees that are risk takers But over a long period of time I think it s most likely that you won t have that level of risk taking Thus I think the wealth

    Original URL path: https://ethicsinsociety.stanford.edu/the-buzz/jeff-raikes-interview-highlights (2014-09-22)
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  • Can schools create "good people"? | Stanford Center for Ethics in Society
    in schools A brief history of character education Teaching character was once a mainstay of educational curricula from the time of Aristotle all the way through the mid 20 th century But McPherson explained this shifted during the 1960s the Civil Rights Movement brought a new focus on educational equity to the forefront Equal opportunity called for equal achievement and the movement for outcome driven evaluation was born With the publication of A Nation at Risk in 1983 which showed that a vast number of American students were under performing a movement toward large scale standardized testing emerged With this new emphasis on outcomes the teaching of character was left on the back burner Recently however researchers and education professionals have been re discovering the importance of teaching character traits related to human wellbeing including moral honesty integrity interpersonal emotional intelligence kindness and achievement perseverance grit Ethical considerations McPherson who has published widely in the fields of economics and political philosophy is sensitive to the ethical difficulties that come along with character education Defining character after all is a difficult and complex endeavor Are the same good character traits equally valuable everywhere and for everyone Whose values should be prioritized What should schools do if certain values such as an orientation toward academic achievement and loyalty to one s family come into conflict Should teachers push students to choose academics over attending family events caring for sick relatives or representing parents in immigration hearings McPherson went on to ask another difficult question how should we measure character What level of each trait is desirable Say we decide that perseverance is something worth teaching What exactly does perseverance entail At what point does it border on stubbornness or obsession traits we may want to discourage Can character be taught Tough ethical issues notwithstanding McPherson pointed to a great deal of evidence that character truly does matter especially when it comes to cultivating a mindset of achievement What approaches should schools use then to cultivate good character He suggested stealthy interventions that provide opportunities for students to pick up character habits while pursuing academic questions For example students who are motivated to solve a difficult math problem as a group will not only learn math but will also pick up skills like communication and teamwork Such approaches do not rely on direct appeals because simply telling a student to be honest or to work harder is unlikely to yield results Of course as Eamonn Callan a Philosophy Professor in the School of Education pointed out during the Q A session education may also require creating a space where students can think about the kinds of characters they hope to become To that point McPherson emphasized not merely cultivating character traits but also helping students develop the ability to choose which character traits matter in certain circumstances A call for action McPherson closed his talk with a call for action Acknowledging the dearth of research into the ethics and efficacy of character education

    Original URL path: https://ethicsinsociety.stanford.edu/the-buzz/can-schools-create-good-people (2014-09-22)
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  • What is family, what are strangers? MacFarquhar profiles couple who adopted 20 special needs children | Stanford Center for Ethics in Society
    a good father And Sue had wanted to adopt ever since she was twelve years old and read The Family Nobody Wanted a book about a 1930s couple who adopted several multiracial children Belonging to a family like that seemed wonderful to her But the Badeaus concern for children in need did not end after the birth of Chelsea and Isaac and the adoption of Jose from El Salvador and baby Raj from India There were the six abused teenagers from Texas their father dead and mother absent whom no one wanted to adopt There were the four young siblings from New Mexico for who Sue and Hector felt instant love upon seeing their photos in an adoption newsletter There were the severely disabled children most of whom were expected to die within a few years Adoption agencies began seeking out Sue and Hector to ask them to take the children no one else would and in each case they had to decide if they could effectively parent one more Sue and Hector were religious people and to them the question ultimately amounted to does God mean for us to adopt this child There were critics outside the family of course people who thought Sue and Hector were driven to adopt by some unhealthy psychological compulsion and were arrogant to think they could be good parents to so many And although the Badeau children generally supported each adoption sometimes they too would question the wisdom of taking in another What did it mean to be family if anyone could join A calling to adopt MacFarquhar explained that to Sue and Hector the children whom they felt a calling to adopt were in some third category between family and stranger before they joined the family It was a third intermediate category of person morally speaking a person whom it was their duty to help in the same way that it would be their duty to help a wounded person right in front of them on the street MacFarquhar said To Sue and Hector these adoptions were not acts of charity they were acts of rescue It is good to give to charity but acceptable not to rescue on the other hand is a duty immoral to avoid unless the risk is extreme MacFarquhar pointed out Indeed Sue is a proselytizer for adoption both in her personal and professional life She often talks to friends about adoption and she works as an adoption consultant Although the Badeaus do not believe that adopting twenty children is for everyone they do think everyone should adopt Extreme morality What is Family What are Strangers is MacFarquhar s second talk at Stanford Last year she spoke about a young couple that feels morally obligated to donate all their surplus income to charity Like Sue and Hector Badeau Sarah and Ethan place more weight on the interests of strangers than most they act in accordance with what they believe to an exceptional degree and they are frequently

    Original URL path: https://ethicsinsociety.stanford.edu/the-buzz/what-is-family-what-are-strangers-macfarquhar-profiles-couple-who-adopted-20-special-needs (2014-09-22)
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  • The Ethics of Performance: A Conversation with Vice-Provost Harry Elam and Dean of Religious Life Scotty McLennan | Stanford Center for Ethics in Society
    He has written extensively on theater and performance in his books Taking It to the Streets The Social Protest Theater of Luis Valdez and Amiri Baraka and the Erroll Hill Prize winning The Past as Present in the Drama of August Wilson However Elam s perspective on the topic was not purely academic he was once an aspiring actor himself and has worked professionally as a director for the past twenty years with groups like the Oakland Ensemble Company and TheatreWorks in Palo Alto Acting as Profession This event was part of the Center for Ethics in Society s Ethics and the Professions lunch series McLennan started the discussion by defining what constitutes a profession In his definition there are four characteristics 1 specialized education beyond a bachelor s degree 2 self regulating guilds that both protect the profession and create a sense of tradition 3 the privileging of service to others patients clients etc ahead of self and 4 a code of ethics that people within the profession are expected to follow McLennan and Elam discussed how these criteria apply to acting While acting does not require a specialized license many people pursue formal training and actors have established guilds like Actor s Equity Actors provide a service to their audience and follow a professional code called Actor s Etiquette which includes never missing a performance and always giving the best possible performance When we think about ethical questions around acting McLennan said that we have to ask Who are the stakeholders beyond self who an actor would have obligation to Stakeholders may include the union the guild other actors and the audience Ethical questions arise when we consider what interests each group has and in what cases these interests might not align with those of the other groups Case Studies Elam and McLennan brought up several case studies to discuss the ethical dilemmas actors sometimes face Elam started with the story of actor James Earl Jones who played singer and actor Paul Robeson in a two act play Paul Robeson s son felt that the play dwarfed his father and protested theproduction Jones responded that his responsibility was to play the role that he was given regardless of its social impact This brings up the question of whether an actor should consider the impact of the role that he or she is assigned Elam further examined this question through an anecdote about attending an event for African American actors where someone argued that an actor should never take a role that is demeaning to their race or culture Another person responded that if you do not twenty people behind you will This story touches on how the demands of finding work as an actor may conflict with ethical obligations Another case study involves the actress Holly Hunter When she was hired by a playhouse to perform in one of its shows the playhouse was able to sell out all of its season tickets because people could only attend

    Original URL path: https://ethicsinsociety.stanford.edu/the-buzz/the-ethics-of-performance-a-conversation-with-vice-provost-harry-elam-and-dean-of-religious (2014-09-22)
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  • Having Too Much: Ingrid Robeyns defends a 'Limitarian Doctrine' | Stanford Center for Ethics in Society
    defines rich in a way that excludes the poor as well as the middle class but includes many extremely rich people in our society However the Limitarian Doctrine is itself silent on the question of the existence and stringency of the duties of the middle classes Robeyns definition of rich is as follows a person is rich when they have at least enough resources to live a fully flourishing life Appealing to a view of quality of life that has been influential in welfare economics and political philosophy Robeyns defines a fully flourishing life in terms of a constellation of capabilities to function in certain ways if one chooses These are the capability to have good health be informed and educated to perform meaningful work enjoy spatial mobility good housing to enjoy some leisure activities and to develop supportive social relationships with family and friends Robeyns claims that the people must determine what is to count as having enough to achieve these capabilities democratically This account is much more attractive than an alternative way of defining rich Robeyns claims which takes some percentage of the population such as the wealthiest 10 percent and determines that they are rich Robeyns argues this account is unattractive because it cannot accommodate the idea that there would be more rich people after rather than before a huge economic boom that benefits everyone in real terms The relativist approach is more appropriate to picking out the richest rather than those who are rich To support the Limitarian Doctrine Robeyns provides two arguments but admits there may be more The first argument proceeds from the thought that we should value democracy and that in order for it to be well functioning individuals must be political equals It argues that the rich can and will use their wealth to influence political decisions through funding political candidates and purchasing political ads This will undermine political equality The second argument proceeds from the thought that there are many urgent unmet basic needs which have a certain priority in our moral thinking Robeyns claims that a person s desire to have more resources than are strictly necessary to lead a fully flourishing life have zero moral urgency She contends that since there are a large number of ways that the surplus wealth could be used to meet the urgent needs of many people who live in poverty or to solve collective action problems such as climate change then there is a moral obligation to use the surplus wealth of the rich Robeyns concluded that in societies like our own where the rich do use their wealth for political influence and where there are urgent unmet basic needs at home and abroad the rich do have a duty to give up their surplus wealth and we may tax it In discussion Robeyns responded to questions about the democratic justification of Limitarianism and the relation of that doctrine to economic equality which may be better supported by each of the arguments offered

    Original URL path: https://ethicsinsociety.stanford.edu/the-buzz/having-too-much-ingrid-robeyns-defends-a-limitarian-doctrine (2014-09-22)
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  • Kidney Donations from "Perfect Strangers" | Stanford Center for Ethics in Society
    wanted to donate to Both women had the blood type B and initially the donation seemed possible but unfortunately medical tests later showed that they were not a match For both Ellie and the audience attending the film this news was hard to bear especially after seeing Kathy s dialysis firsthand Her dialysis consumed several hours every day and it was a painful process throughout which she was required to stay stationary Ellie described witnessing Kathy s dialysis as being privy to an intimate process that deepened her love for Kathy and her desire to donate and Krawitz s shots of the medical procedure and its oppressive effect on the lives of Kathy and her husband conveyed the same feeling to the audience Now Kathy was back to square one and Ellie had to decide how to proceed On one level donating to Kathy would have been a donation to a stranger On another however it was not while she did not know Kathy outside the context of donation she had grown attached both to Kathy and to the idea of giving Kathy her kidney It was thus a directed donation not an undirected donation with an anonymous recipient that Ellie knew nothing about akin to blood donations Last year there were about 5 000 kidney donations in the United States and only 161 were undirected donations to strangers Ultimately Ellie decided to give to a stranger in a truly undirected donation The recipient was a man on the East Coast named Mike but Ellie was barred from knowing his identity before the donation After her surgery it was up to Mike to reveal what he wanted Mike and Ellie spoke once when Ellie was on a radio show discussing the donation and Mike called in to introduce himself And after waiting for eight years Kathy was finally given a kidney from someone else Though Ellie stressed throughout the film that donating a kidney is relatively cost free and does not involve any heroic sacrifice the audience seemed to feel differently When introducing the film Dean of Continuing Studies Charles Junkerman said that the title Perfect Strangers has a double meaning And when Ellie walked on the stage for the post film discussion she received a standing ovation Debra Satz professor of philosophy and director of the McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society remarked that while directed donation to a loved one is viewed as a duty undirected donation to a stranger is seen as heroic but a little crazy This was certainly borne out in the film in which Kathy Mike and their respective spouses all said they did not understand how Ellie could be motivated toward such altruism Mike said that giving a kidney is not a normal favor it s not like giving someone a couple bucks He can see why someone would altruistically donate a little money but a kidney Alumnus Alexander Berger who donated a kidney to a stranger while at Stanford suggested that

    Original URL path: https://ethicsinsociety.stanford.edu/the-buzz/kidney-donations-from-perfect-strangers (2014-09-22)
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  • For Jerome Karabel, the United States is an national outlier | Stanford Center for Ethics in Society
    extent the United States is a healthy society and how its societal health compares to that of nineteen other wealthy democracies Analyzing societal health in domains such as the economy health education and crime Karabel s research shows that the United States is at least on many important dimensions less successful than many comparable countries The central claim of Karabel s lecture was that in several important respects the United States is an outlier among wealthy democracies Out of a set of twenty wealthy democratic countries the United States spends the 19th lowest percentage of its GDP on public social expenditure and has the 19th lowest union membership rate The United States has the highest degree of income inequality and the second highest degree of wealth inequality And among the other five liberal market economies in the set Ireland the United Kingdom Canada Australia and New Zealand the United States is by far the most liberal as indicated by among other measures its low redistribution low public social spending low state control of enterprises and strong shareholder rights Yet the United States is a very wealthy society The United States GDP per capita is second only to Norway s and the United States has the highest median disposable income One way of examining then how healthy American society is compared to other wealthy democracies is as Karabel argued to ask what the United States does with that wealth That is given that the United States is among the wealthiest of wealthy democracies what outcomes has it achieved with that wealth Of the nine social outcome domains that Karabel examines the United States health outcome is perhaps the most discouraging Despite being the wealthiest country in the set of wealthy democracies the United States has the worst health outcomes with the lowest life expectancy and the highest rate of obesity The outcomes with respect to crime are similarly poor as the United States has the highest murder rate the second highest assault rate and far and away the greatest incarceration rate The United States ranks near or at the bottom in Karabel s measures of mental health and subjective well being the environment mobility and opportunity and the quality of democracy while its ranking on education falls near the middle of the set In one bright spot the United States fares well in the social capital domain with the most group memberships per person When Karabel was asked during the question and answer session following the lecture what based on his findings the United States could do to improve its position he recommended instituting universal health care coverage universal pre kindergarten and though conceding that it is unlikely to occur a strengthened union movement To those who are still inclined to believe that the United States is the greatest country in the world Karabel did note in reply to another question that there may be some domains one could add to his measure of societal health in which the United States

    Original URL path: https://ethicsinsociety.stanford.edu/the-buzz/for-jerome-karabel-the-united-states-is-an-national-outlier (2014-09-22)
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  • Journalist Nicholas Lemann explores the rise of the ‘Transaction Society’ in Tanner Lectures | Stanford Center for Ethics in Society
    Lemann said in this year s Tanner Lectures on Human Values which were held at Stanford last week A staff writer at The New Yorker and former dean of Columbia University s Graduate School of Journalism Lemann argued that the transition from organizations oriented toward the good of their members to a transaction dominated culture has shaped and been shaped by significant changes in the balance of power within American society Lemann s lectures were accompanied by two public discussion sessions held the morning following each talk Four commentators political scientists Theda Skocpol and Paul Pierson historian strategy consultant Brook Manville and novelist Joshua Ferris kicked off these discussions with prepared remarks Lemann s lectures developed in part out of his 2012 campaign trail profile of Governor Mitt Romney which appeared in The New Yorker under the title Transaction Man If Mitt Romney s father George who served as president of the American Motors Company before becoming governor of Michigan was the quintessential organization man then Mitt himself as head of Bain Capital was best understood as a transaction man He s someone who moves assets around with a speed and force that leaves many of the rest of us bewildered Lemann wrote In the national culture he explained in his first lecture Wednesday evening what was considered the ideal use of top talent shifted from managing a large organization to entering high stakes situations as an analyst an advisor or an investor of capital and engineering a consequential transaction before moving on to the next situation In the Jan 15 lecture Lemann characterized the broad turn against strong institutions private corporations and public bureaucracies alike among mid century American intellectuals Lemann s second lecture on Jan 16 went on to detail the lasting effects of this shift on various social economic and legal arrangements The Center for Ethics in Society collaborates with The Office of the President to host the Tanner Lectures Comprised of annual lectures and seminars across nine universities the Tanner Lectures were established by the late American scholar industrialist and philanthropist Obert Clark Tanner He hoped the series would bring about a better understanding of human behavior and human values and that it might eventually have practical consequences for the quality of personal and social life Appointment as a Tanner lecturer recognizes uncommon achievement and outstanding ability in the field of human values conceived broadly to include the disciplines of philosophy religion the humanities the sciences and the learned professions as well as positions of leadership in public and private affairs Lemann s selection honors his extensive work tackling important issues such as our legacy of racial injustice the nature of individualism the dilemmas of meritocracy and the role of a free press said Debra Satz philosophy professor Senior Associate Dean for the Humanities and Arts and Director of the McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society All these issues raise questions of ethics and Lemann s take on them is always interesting learned and swings

    Original URL path: https://ethicsinsociety.stanford.edu/the-buzz/journalist-nicholas-lemann-explores-the-rise-of-the-transaction-society-in-tanner-lectures (2014-09-22)
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