Past Events

Here are some of the Lectures/Panel-Discussions we have sponsored in the past:

“Making Peace with the Earth”

Dr. Vandana Shiva

April 8th at 6:00 pm (Kirby Ballroom)

Dr. Shiva will be making the argument that wars against the earth become wars against people, and that sustainable use of resources is the way toward peace and justice.

Dr. Shiva is the foremost ecofeminist scholar and activist in the world.  Trained as a physicist, she received her PhD in Philosophy of Science from the University of Western Ontario, Canada in 1978.  She is the author of more than 20 books, including Staying AliveEcofeminismSoil not Oil;  Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and PeaceWater Wars: Privatization, Pollution, and ProfitStolen Harvest: Hijacking the World’s Food Supply; and her most recent Making Peace with the Earth.  She is the founder of Navdanya, a national movement in India to promote the protection of native seed, organic farming, and fair trade practices.  She has served on several governmental and international advisory committees, including the Women’s Environment and Development Organization.  She is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including the Right Livelihood Award: “The Alternative Nobel Prize.”

The lecture is to be free and open to the public.

"Constitution Week Event: Voter ID, How Does it Impact Your Voice?"

Panel Discussion 

September 17th at 6:00 pm (LSci 175)

The Center is co-sponsoring (with UMD’s Office of Civic Engagement) a panel discussion on recent bouts with various voter ID laws and their potential (allegedly) of suppressing the vote.  This is particularly apt given the recent Supreme Court decision regarding the Voting Rights Act.  As some southern states now try to push ahead with such ID laws (similar to the amendment that failed to pass, here, in Minnesota), it is important to talk about these issues.

The panel:

1. Ian Zuckerman (UMD Political Science) received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 2012. His areas of specialization are early modern political thought and constitutional theory. He is also interested in democratic theory, and inequality. Dr. Zuckerman’s research has appeared in the journal Constellations, among other venues.

2. Jeremy Schroeder is the executive director of Common Cause Minnesota  -- Common Cause is a nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organization founded in 1970 as a vehicle for citizens to make their voices heard in the political process and to hold their elected leaders accountable to the public.

3. Laura Fredrick Wang was the Executive Director of League of Women Voters, Minnesota (Jan. 2011-June 2013). Prior to becoming the Executive Director, Wang served as the Public Policy Coordinator. She was the LWV Minnesota representative to the coalition that advanced the state-wide campaign against the Voter ID amendment and served on the campaign’s executive committee. Wang is a graduate of Metropolitan State University and is currently a Masters in Public Affairs candidate at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute. She has worked previously in public policy and community organizing in the non-profit sector, for federal, state, and city government, as well as managing political campaigns.

4.   Dan McGrath is the president of Minnesota Majority, a conservative advocacy group which lobbied in favor of a bill to put a proposed constitutional amendment requiring voters to show photo ID.

"Preferences for Health Care at the End of Life: Rural-Urban Differences"

Charles Gessert, MD, MPH

Senior Research Scientist (Retired),  Essentia Institute of Rural Health 

October 24th at 6:00 PM (SCC 120)

"Health care decisions are personal decisions, reflecting individual values and goals.  Or are they?  Why do people from different communities pursue different health care goals?  What can research on rural-urban differences in end-of-life care teach us about the care that we will want late in life?"

Dr. Gessert served on the Duluth Clinic Foundation’s Board of Trustees and has served on the Ethics Steering Committee and Ethics Subcommittee for Clinical Consultation at St. Mary’s Medical Center. Dr. Gessert also teaches ethics to medical students at the UMD Medical School. 

In 2012, Dr. Gessert received the Lake Superior Medical Society’s Arthur Aufderheide Scientific Award, given in recognition of outstanding scientific achievements. He has had an extraordinary career in medical research, with more than 80 publications in professional journals to his credit.

Selected Publications:

Gessert CE, Haller IV, Johnson BP. Regional Variation in Care at the End of Life: Discontinuation of Dialysis. BMC Geriatr 2013.

Lutfiyya MN, Gessert CE, Lipsky MS. Nursing Home Quality: A Comparative Analysis Using CMS Nursing Home Compare Data to Examine Differences Between Rural and Nonrural Facilities. J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2013 Aug;14(8):593-8.

Gessert CE, Haller IV.  Medicare Hospital Charges in the Last Year of Life: Distribution by Quarter for Rural and Urban Nursing Home Decedents With Cognitive Impairment.   Journal of Rural Health Spring 2008; 24:154-160.

Gessert CE, Haller IV. Rural-Urban Differences in Medical Care for Nursing Home Residents with Severe Dementia at the End of Life. (Response Letter) J Am Geriatr Soc. 2007 March; 55(3): 471-473.

Gessert CE, Haller IV, Kane RL, Degenholtz H. Rural-Urban Differences in Medical Care for Nursing Home Residents with Severe Dementia at the End of Life. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2006 Aug; 54(8): 1199-1205.

Gessert CE.  Rurality and Suicide (Letter).  Am J Pub Health 2003; 93(5): 698.

Gessert CE, Elliott BA, Haller IV.  Dying of old age.  J Am Geriatr Soc 2002; 50(9): 1561-1565.

"Medical Marijuana in Minnesota"

Panel Discussion 

November 11th at 6:00 pm (Bohannon Hall 90)

This Fall the Center is conducting a panel discussion on the legalization of medical marijuana in Minnesota. Twenty states and the District of Columbia already allow seriously ill residents to use medical marijuana with their doctors’ recommendations. The Minnesota Legislature wrapped up year one of the 2013-2014 session with the introduction of medical marijuana legislation. Rep. Carly Melin (DFL-Hibbing) introduced HF 1818 in the House, and Sen. Scott Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis) introduced the companion – SF 1641 – in the Senate.

The panel:


1.  Rep. Carly Melin is a member of the Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party (DFL), she represents District 6A, which includes portions of the Iron Range in Itasca and St. Louis counties in the northeastern part of the state. Melin received a B.S. in political science from Bemidji State University and a J.D. from Hamline University School of Law. After graduating, she returned to the Iron Range to practice law, accepting a position with the Minnesota State Judiciary. Melin introduced HF 1818, a bill that would allow people with serious illnesses to access and use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it.

2.   Heather Azzi is the political director for Minnesotans for Compassionate Care. MCC is a group of organizations, medical professionals, patients and concerned citizens working to protect people with cancer, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS and other serious illnesses from arrest and imprisonment for using medical marijuana with their physicians' advice.

3.   Rep. Bob Barrett is a member of the Republican Party of Minnesota; he represents District 32B, which includes portions of Chisago County just north of the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Barrett graduated from Mankato State University in Mankato, receiving his B.A. in accounting in 1989. Active in his community, he served on the Chisago Lakes School District Finance Team, and was also a school district mentor.

4.   Cody Wiberg, Pharm.D., M.S., R.Ph. is the executive director of the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy. The Minnesota Board of Pharmacy exists to protect the public from adulterated, misbranded, and illicit drugs, and from unethical or unprofessional conduct on the part of pharmacists or other licensees, and to provide a reasonable assurance of professional competency in the practice of pharmacy by enforcing the Pharmacy Practice Act M.S. 151, State Controlled Substances Act M.S. 152 and various other statutes. The Board regulates pharmacists, pharmacies, pharmacy technicians, controlled substance researchers, drug wholesalers and drug manufactures. The Board approves licenses or registrations for these individuals or businesses, and also decides when to impose disciplinary action.

"How We Ration, Value and Commercialize Health Care in the U.S."

Jennifer Schultz, PhD
Associate Professor, UMD Department of Economics

Director, Health Care Management Program

Labovitz School of Business and Economics

November 21st at 6:00pm  (SCC 120)

"How we value and ration health care services in the U.S. should be a greater social concern than income distribution issues. This is because medical care can be viewed as a basic human right or entitlement. In the U.S. rationing of health care services is by ability to pay rather than by need. This is in stark contrast to other developed countries where rationing is based on need for health care services that are financed by ability to pay. The economic model of using willingness to pay to infer value is likely flawed in health care, yet economists have been very influential in health policy reform. We are now embarking on an era where the focus will be reducing the cost growth in the health care sector. The reductions of public subsidies and employer-based health insurance will likely put additional financial burdens on households. This presentation will focus on issues and ethics involved with how we value, ration and commercialize health care and what this means for working Americans."

Dr. Schultz is an associate professor in the Department of Economics and Director of the Health Care Management Program. Her fields of research include health economics, pharmacoeconomics, and health policy. She is currently evaluating the effects of health insurance benefit costs on demand for full-time and part-time labor and retirement decisions; the effects of social capital on health in the U.S.; and taxation of unhealthy foods and purchasing behavior. Prior to joining the University of Minnesota, Dr. Schultz was a faculty member at Cornell University where she analyzed consumer decision-making in health care, use of health care information, and perceptions of quality differences across health care providers. Dr. Schultz’s previous research has also included an evaluation of consumer driven health care (a health care purchasing arrangement by large employers), an investigation of the selection of health care provider groups by employees and families to determine their sensitivity to price and quality measures, and an empirical analysis of risk redefinition. As a research consultant for Ingenix, UnitedHealth Group, she analyzed health care utilization and costs for a variety of health conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, bipolar disorder, hyperlipidemia, cancer, migraine, and asthma. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota and her M.A. in Economics from Washington State University. She has published articles in the Journal of Health Economics, Health Services Research, Medical Care, American Journal of Managed Care, and Milbank Quarterly and has presented research at academic and professional conferences.

"Minnesota's Minimum Wage"

Panel Discussion

February 21st at 6:00 pm (Chem 200)

Due to poor weather, this event has been cancelled. 

This Spring the Center (with the assistance of MPIRG) is conducting a panel discussion on raising Minnesota’s minimum wage. The Minnesota House (on May 3rd, 2013) passed the Minimum Wage Bill, HF 92, on a 68 to 62 vote. It sought to raise the minimum wage for large employers to $8.00 in 2013, $9.00 in 2014 and $9.50 in 2015. The Minnesota Senate also passed 
a minimum wage bill, on a 39 to 28 vote. Under the Senate bill, however, the rate goes up to only $7.75 by 2015. Many questions remain. Should Minnesota raise the minimum wage? And if so, by how much? Will raising the minimum wage actually help the poor? The CEPP will host a panel discussion with various experts to provide information and context to this important and contentious issue. The goal is to create an open discussion in which many sides can exchange ideas/concerns in a respectful atmosphere.

The Panel:

(1) Ben Gerber -- Manager of energy policy and labor/management policy, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. He joined the organization in January 2012. He represents the Chamber’s energy interests at both the Legislature and the Public Utilities Commission. Gerber was an oil and gas attorney and handled Fredrikson & Byron’s government relations operation in North Dakota, focusing on mining, energy and tax legislation. His Minnesota experience includes time spent at a Minneapolis government relations office, and public policy and legal work for National Wind, LLC, a large-scale community wind developer. Gerber graduated from William Mitchell College of law cum laude in 2010 and was admitted to the Minnesota State Bar Association. 

(2) Dan McElroy -- President and CE0, Hospitality Minnesota He came to Hospitality Minnesota from state government, where he served as Commissioner of Employment and Economic Development and previously as Governor Tim Pawlenty's Chief of Staff as well as Commissioner of Finance. Dan has years of experience as an elected official, including city council member (1983-87) and mayor (1987-1995) in Burnsville, as well as a state representative (1995-2003). While known for his work in the public sector, Dan also has experience in the private sector that includes serving as CEO for Travel Agency Management Solutions, Inc., president of Mainline Travel, and Chief Financial Officer of Travel Professionals.

(3) Rep. Ryan Winkler (District 46A) -- Rep. Winkler’s committee assignments include: Civil Law, Data Practices, Early Childhood and Youth Development Policy, Elections, Government Operations, Higher Education Finance and Policy, Living Wage Jobs (Chair). He was the chief author of HF 92 (which was passed on May 3rd, 2013) which sought to raise the minimum wage to $9.50 by 2015. 

(4) Rev. Nancy E. Maeker -- Executive Director at A Minnesota Without Poverty (AMWP), a statewide movement to end poverty in Minnesota by 2020. Her work with AMWP focuses on convening and leading a collaborative process to implement the recommendations of the Legislative Commission to End Poverty in Minnesota, and to build the public and political will to end poverty. Previously she served as Dean of Students at Luther Seminary (1991-2000), Pastor for Community Ministries at Central Lutheran Church, Minneapolis (2000-2002), and Bishop’s Associate in the Saint Paul Area Synod-ELCA  (2002-2008). She has degrees from Texas Lutheran University (BA), Wartburg Seminary (MDiv), University of Texas at Austin (MMus), and Luther Seminary (DMin).  She is the co-author of Ending Poverty: A 20/20 Vision (2006).  

"American Politics in the Age of Ignorance" 
David Schultz, PhD, JD, LLM
Professor, Hamline University, Political Science
March 6th at 6:00 pm (SCC 120)

On March 6th, the Center for Ethics and Public Policy will sponsor a public lecture by David SchultzHe will discuss findings from one of his most recent books, American Politics in the Age of Ignorance.

Abstract: “State and local governments are often trumpeted as laboratories of democracy, capable of significant policy innovation and expertise. Yet the reality is that states more often than not repeatedly reenact failed policies that past research shows do not work. American Politics in the Age of Ignorance contends that policy making is shrouded in many myths and that policy makers often ignore ample research and evidence when it comes to legislating on a range of issues. Examining such hot button issues as restricting immigration and welfare migration, seeking to lure businesses with tax breaks, and providing public subsidies for sports stadiums, this book catalogs a list of repeatedly enacted failed policies that public officials advocate, offering a critical and skeptical analysis of the policy process.”

David Schultz is a nationally recognized expert in government, nonprofit, and business ethics, campaign finance reform, land use and eminent domain policy, law and politics, and the media and politics who has been extensively quoted in news sources such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNN, MSNBC, Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, NBC News, ABC News, CBS News, Cox News Service, and National Public Radio. He is the editor for five book series with Peter Lang Publishing and M.E. Sharpe as well as author and editor of 25 books, 12 legal treatises, and over 100 articles. His most recent publications include American Politics in the Age of Ignorance (Palgrave 2012), The Encyclopedia of  American Law and Criminal Justice  (Facts on File, Inc. 2012) and Andromeda Galaxy and the Rise of Modern Astronomy (Springer, 2012). Professor Schultz is editor in chief for JPAE, The Journal of Public Affairs Education, and he sits on the editoral boards of The Journal of Public Integrity  and Social Sciences Studies. He was the past president and executive director for Common Cause Minnesota; he has worked as a housing and economic planner for an Office of Economic Opportunity agency; helped in the drafting of the new 8th edition of the Model City Charter for the National Civil League; and participated in three amicus briefs before the United States Supreme Court regarding campaign finance reform. Besides teaching classes in government ethics, housing and economic development, privatization, and the foundation of public administration, Professor Schultz also holds appointments in the Department of Criminal Justice and Forensic Science where he teaches criminal justice and criminology, and in several local law schools where he offers classes in state and local law, legal ethics, election law, and state constitutional law.

"Documentary as New Monument: 'Comfort Women' and Japan's National History"

Dr. Mariko Izumi, Associate Professor, Columbus State University

April 2nd at 11:00 am (LSBE 265)

This essay examines documentary films that (re)present former “comfort women,” the victims of the sexual atrocities perpetrated by the Japanese imperial military during the Asia-Pacific War (1930-1945).  We will explore the question: In what ways do these documentaries seek to create a space for articulating the unspeakable, that is, to render memories of suffering meaningful? 

Dr. Izumi works in the areas of rhetorical criticism and history, cultural studies, and critical Asian studies. Her research explores the intersection of ethics and politics, especially the ways in which a nation remembers its wartime past, how such memories travel across generations as well as national borders, and how such communicative processes shape the discursive formation of humanitarian agendas in international politics. 


"Your Treaty Rights: Indian Nations, Federalisms, and Policy Possibilities."

Joseph Bauerkemper

Assistant Professor, UMD's Department of American Indian Studies

April 23rd at 6:00 pm (MWAH 195)

Dr. Joseph Bauerkemper will give a presentation that considers past patterns, present shifts, and future trajectories of public policy regarding American Indian affairs through the lens of treaty relations and rights. Dr. Bauerkemper will weave together thoughts regarding federated sovereignties, il/liberalism, settler colonialism, Native activism burgeoning at present, and current specific policy efforts cutting across tribal, state, and federal governance.


Joseph Bauerkemper is an Assistant Professor in the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth where his scholarship, outreach, and teaching emphasize politics, literature, and law. He has published in Studies in American Indian LiteraturesAmerican StudiesJournal of Transnational American Studies, and the edited collections Visualities: Perspectives on Contemporary American Indian Film and Art andSeeing Red - Hollywood’s Pixeled Skins. Joseph has forthcoming work in the American Indian Culture and Research Journal and the Oxford Handbook on North American Indigenous Literatures, and he is preparing his manuscript Trans/National Narrations: Native Writing, Unsettled Histories, and Ethical Polity for publication. Before joining the UMD faculty, Joseph earned his PhD in American Studies from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, enjoyed one year at the University of Illinois as a Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow in American Indian Studies, and enjoyed two years at UCLA as an Andrew W. Mellon Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of English and in the program for the study of Cultures in Transnational Perspective.

"Minnesota Wolf Hunt"
Panel Discussion 
October 5th at 6:00 pm (Bohannon Hall 90)

Minnesota's wolves transitioned from federal protection under the Endangered Species Act to state management by the Minnesota DNR on Jan. 27, 2012. As authorized by the Minnesota Legislature and governor, the state will implement its first-ever wolf season (hunting and trapping) in the fall of 2012. There have been numerous concerns as to the ethical and prudential ramifications (i.e., wolf management) regarding this hunt. The CEPP will host a panel discussion with various experts to provide information and context to this important and contentious issue. The goal is to create an op en discussion in which many sides can exchange ideas/concerns in a respectful atmosphere

The panel:

1. L. David Mech: a Senior Scientist with the Biological Resources Division, U.S. Geological Survey and an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, and Ecology, Evolution and Behavior at the University of Minnesota. Mech is also founder and vice chair of the International Wolf Center, and chair of the IUCN Wolf Specialist Group. His books include: (1) Wolves: Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation; (2) The Wolves of Minnesota: Howl in the Heartland; (3) The Wolves of Denali; (3) The Arctic Wolf: Ten Years With the Pack; (4) Wolves of the High Arctic; (5) The Way of the Wolf; (6) The Arctic Wolf: Living With the Pack; (7)  A Handbook of Animal Radio-Tracking; (8) The Wolf: The Ecology and Behavior of an Endangered Species; (9) The Wolves of Isle Royale.

2. Sam Cook: He has been a writer/columnist with the Duluth News Tribune for 32 years. He writes the column -- "Outdoors with Sam Cook". His books include: (1) Moving Waters: Adventures on Northern Rivers; (2) Up North; (3) Friendship Fires; (4) Quiet Magic (Outdoor Essays & Reflections)

3. Mark Johnson: Executive Director, Minnesota Deer Hunters Association. Over the last 30 years MDHA has improved upon and developed its mission of “working for tomorrow’s wildlife and hunters today.” With 65 chapters and nearly 20,000 members throughout the state, MDHA works in Minnesota for Minnesota through four main tenets which include hunting, habitat, education and legislation.

4. Howard Goldman: Minnesota Senior State Director, The Humane Society. He has been an animal advocate for more than 30 years and The HSUS's Minnesota senior state director since 2008. Before joining The HSUS, he directed a wildlife-protection group focused on banning leghold traps and protecting gray wolves, black bears, lynx, and bobcats. Under Goldman's direction, the group successfully banned or restricted trapping in 30 Minnesota communities, and helped defeat legislation to establish a greyhound racetrack.

5. Maureen Hackett: Founder, Howling for Wolves --- Howling for Wolves was created to be a voice for wild wolves. It aims to educate the public about Minnesota’s wolf population and let people know how they can take action to keep wild wolves in a self-sustaining existence. The Center for Biological Diversity and Howling for Wolves filed a lawsuit on 9/18 against the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources challenging the agency’s failure to provide a formal opportunity for public comment on recently approved rules establishing wolf hunting and trapping.

"End of Life Care Planning In Minnesota: Issues and Complications"
Barbara Elliot 
Professor, UMD Medical School
November 14th at 5:00 pm (SCC 120)

Dr. Elliot will speak about various complications regarding end-of-life planning in the Northland.  In particular, she will focus upon, POLST (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment), DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) orders, Advance Directives and Proxy Consent. 

Barbara Elliott is Professor of Family Medicine on the Duluth campus where she teaches ethics, the health issues of family violence, and spirituality and health care. She is also trained and works as a hospital chaplain.

Dr. Elliott's research investigates the health care needs and outcomes of those with limited access to health care, and has contributed to the health and well being of youth and adults in Minnesota. Her program of research has documented the personal, social and medical outcomes of extending access to health care to the under-served. She has had continuous grant support since 1984 for her research and its dissemination.

In recent years, Dr. Elliott's major focus has been on the health and needs of adolescents, but her research has investigated outcomes in a range of settings, addressing health issues of children and adults a) in rural settings, b) living with violence, c) living on tribal lands, d) of families of teen parents, e) of adolescents who live independently of their families, f) of people living at the end of life, and g) of patients with dementia and their family caregivers. In the last several years 

she has begun developing research efforts more focused in the spirituality and health area, and looks forward to continuing to integrate these ideas into future efforts. The granted awards over the past decade have come from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HRSA (Maternal Child Health Bureau), National Cancer Institute, the Minnesota Departments of Children, Families and Learning and of Economic Security, the Healthier Minnesota Community Clinics Fund, and local foundations. She has been Principal Investigator for essentially all of these grants

"Moral Perspectives on Armed Humanitarian Intervention"

on Scheid, J.D., Ph.D.

Professor, Winona State University

November 28th at 5:00 pm (SCC 120)

"The subject of the talk is 'armed humanitarian intervention' (AHI), or 'humanitarian military intervention.' 

Two prominent (if somewhat controversial) examples are: (i) the NATO intervention in 1999 to stop the Serbian ethnic cleansing of Albanians in Kosovo, a province of the former Yugoslavia, and (ii) the more recent NATO intervention in Libya (2011) that helped oust the dictator Muammar Gaddafi. 

The main body of the talk offers an exploration of the possible moral foundations of AHI and one or two of its problems and moral limitations. 

The subject of AHI is relevant to broader questions about the legitimate use of force and the role of the State."

Professor Don E.Scheid  undertook graduate studies in Philosophy at New York University. 

After completing a dissertation on theories of legal punishment, under the chairmanship of Prof. Joel Feinberg, Scheid received his Ph.D. in 1977. 

A one-year teaching fellowship at Bowdoin College (Brunswick, Maine) followed.   He then taught for two years at the University of Illinois, in Champaign/Urbana. He left Illinois to attended law school at the University of Utah (Salt Lake City).  While in law school, he also taught as an adjunct professor with the Philosophy Department there.  He received his J.D. degree in 1984. 

From Utah, he moved to Minnesota to become chair of the Philosophy Dept. at Winona State 

University.  Among other initiatives, he organized and developed a special, interdisciplinary program, “War, Peace and Terrorism.”  Professor  Scheid recently retired, after teaching for almost 25 years at Winona State

Professor Scheid edited --  Ethics and Foreign Intervention (Cambridge, 2003)He has articleregarding the philosophy of criminal law, appearing in -- e.g., Public Affairs Quarterly, Law and Philosophy, and Ethics.  Also, Scheid is a member of the ethics committee at Community Memorial Hospital.

"On the Criminal Culpability of Successful and Unsuccessful Psychopaths"
Katrina Sifferd, J.D., Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Elmhurst College
November 30th at 2:00 pm (ABAH 235)


Psychopaths have been deemed by some philosophers to be less criminally responsible than other offenders because they lack personhood , moral knowledge , or rationality . However, the criminal courts do not generally consider psychopathy to be an excusing condition. By some estimates there are half a million psychopaths currently in US prisons . Some juries are even willing to apply the highest level of culpability and punishment to psychopaths: In 2010, an Illinois jury sentenced murderer James Dugan to death, despite hearing clear psychological and neuroscientific evidence that he was a psychopath. Although in the Dugan case, psychopathy was offered as a mitigating factor, interviews with career capital defense attorneys suggest that evidence of psychopathy is usually seen as an aggravating factor.

The disagreement regarding the culpability of psychopaths appears to be grounded in a related dispute about the cognitive capacities necessary for criminal culpability. Although many psychopaths tend to have normal, or even slightly above normal, IQs, they are said to suffer from an inability to experience social or "moral" emotions, including empathy. It has been argued that this inability to feel for their victims means psychopaths don't have access to certain reasons not to act. However, autistic persons suffer similar deficits and they do not tend to commit anti-social acts. Indeed, they are less likely than the average person to be entangled in the criminal justice system. Because autistics are not likely to commit crimes, and are generally not considered exempt from criminal responsibility, deficits in empathy alone cannot explain psychopath’s behavior, or constitute a legal excuse.

We argue that psychopaths’ cognitive deficit is not easily understood in terms of an inability to experience certain emotions. Instead, we propose that a better understanding of the law’s rationality requirement, and the psychopath’s moral capacities, can be gained by a study of the brain’s executive function. When seen from this perspective, the disagreement regarding psychopaths' culpability can be explained by the heterogeneous nature of the group “psychopaths.” This heterogeneity is roughly captured in the distinction between successful (with little or no criminal record) and unsuccessful (with a criminal record) psychopaths. Successful psychopaths may be fully culpable, because they possess the executive functions to allow them to notice and correct for their criminal tendencies. Many unsuccessful psychopaths, however, have a lack of executive function that should at least partially excuse them from criminal culpability via the doctrine of diminished capacity.

We understand that this is an unsavory prospect as many unsuccessful psychopaths are likely to continue to commit crimes. Stephen Morse, who argues psychopaths are not responsible, does so on grounds of legal insanity, allowing for the incapacitation of psychopaths in a medical institution. However, we do not agree that psychopaths are insane. And generally, the future dangerousness of a defendant is irrelevant at the guilt phase of a trial (which aims only to determine guilt regarding a particular crime). At sentencing, future dangerous may in some cases be considered (e.g. in capital cases). However, diminished capacity may also be considered as a mitigating factor in sentencing. 

Even so, justice requires that the criteria for criminal culpability be applied in a systematic way to all persons. As students are taught in law school, hard cases make bad law. Psychopaths are a hard case; however, it is unjust to convolute legal concepts or categories to accommodate them. 


Dr. Sifferd holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of London, King's College. Her Ph.D. thesis, entitled 'Psychology and the Criminal Law', was supervised by David Papineau, and explores the nature of the folk concepts underpinning criminal responsibility and how those concepts may be updated via scientific psychology. Dr. Sifferd also has a J.D. from DePaul University College of Law, and a B.A. in psychology from Valparaiso University. Before teaching at Elmhurst College she was a Rockefeller Fellow in Law and Public Policy and a Visiting Professor in philosophy at Dartmouth College. Prior to earning her Ph.D., she worked as a senior research analyst on projects for the National Institute of Justice.

At Elmhurst College Dr. Sifferd teaches Problems of Philosophy, Ancient Philosophy, Moral Philosophy, Philosophy of Law and Criminal Law.

"Boomer Politics and the Death of Solution Minded Democracy in America"
Don Ness
Mayor of Duluth
February 26th at 7:00 pm  (Montague Hall 80)

An assessment of a style of politics that came to prominence within the past twenty years, and the very real dangers it presents to the long-term health of our country.  Mayor Ness will present some potential legislative solutions and what he views as leadership challenges for Boomers, Gen X, and Millennial generations to fix this broken system of governance.

Don Ness was elected mayor in 2007 from a field of 12 candidates. Four years into the job, Mayor Ness had an 86% job approval rating according to the 2011 National Citizen Survey. He was re-elected in 2011, becoming the first mayor to run unopposed since Duluth was incorporated in 1887.

Mayor Ness graduated from UMD in 1997 with a degree in Business Administration and is currently working on a MBA degree at the College of St. Scholastica. Prior to becoming mayor, he served on the City Council for eight years, including two as Council President.

"Spontaneous Abortion and Unexpected Death" 

Mary Clayton Coleman 
Assistant Professor, Illinois Wesleyan University 
March 8th at 4:00 pm (ABAH 245)

"Don Marquis’ classic argument against abortion has received a great deal of critical attention in the two decades since its publication in “Why Abortion Is Immoral.” However, there is a serious problem with this argument that seems to have gone unnoticed. Approximately one-third of the fetuses that survive long enough to implant in the uterine wall are eventually lost to spontaneous abortion. This means that approximately one-third of post-implantation fetuses have no (valuable) future ahead of them. In this paper, I explore what relevance the rate of spontaneous abortion has for Marquis’ argument about the morality of medical abortion."

Mary Clayton Coleman specializes in ethics and philosophy of action. She is also interested in metaphysics, philosophy of mind, and the history of early modern philosophy. In her current research, she is investigating the relationship between the nature of action and the foundations of ethics. For example, she is arguing for the surprising, controversial idea that significant truths about which actions we ought to perform follow from the nature of action itself.

"Community Perspectives on Violence in America"

Panel Discussion

April 2nd at 7:00 pm (Kirby Ballroom)

A coalition of UMD faculty and staff has joined together to organize a panel focused upon perspectives on violence in society. The intent of the event is to encourage campus-community dialogue regarding violence in response to Newtown, focusing upon three frames of violence:  gun violence and legal issues, violence in the media and media and mental illness.  As a Land Grant Mission University and in support of goal 5 and goal 2 of the strategic plan, we hope this event will provide opportunities for our campus and community to unite, discuss critical issues and consider steps for action in our own community. The Chancellor will provide opening remarks.

The panel:

(1) Aaron Boyson studies the social, psychological, and communicative impacts of exposure to mass media with an emphasis on childhood.  His work has drawn a focus on violence in the media, including why people choose to consume it, outcomes from repeated exposure, and how both news and entertainment portray violence on screen.  Boyson earned his doctorate from Michigan State University where his dissertation analyzed the relationship between media violence exposure and homicidal thinking.  He has been on the Communication faculty at UMD since 2006 teaching classes in media effects, media theory, and quantitative research methods.

(2) Frank Jewell is a member of the St. Louis County Board representing the 1st District and Chair of the County Board’s Central Management and Intergovernmental Committee. In 2011, Frank was appointed by Governor Dayton to the Clean Water Council. He is a former Duluth City Councilor. In 1996 helped found Men as Peacemakers Director, a nonprofit working throughout the state to prevent violence, and from 2000 thru 2011 he was the Executive Director. In 1997 and 1998 he authored report, funded by the Joyce Foundation, on calls to 911 in which a gun was mentioned and followed those calls to arrests, prosecution and sentence. Frank has developed many highly successful programs and has built numerous well-functioning collaborative partnerships between organizations and institutions. He is a skilled and experienced group facilitator, trainer, and presenter.

(3) Russ Stewart teaches philosophy at Lake Superior College. He also served two terms on the Duluth City Council where he was first elected as a member of the Green Party. Eight years in local politics forced him to confront the reality of government inefficiency, waste, and corruption. He emerged from this experience a self-proclaimed libertarian and advocate of individual autonomy.

(4) Jeff Maahs is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology-Anthropology at the University of Minnesota Duluth. He received his Ph.D. in Criminal Justice from the University of Cincinnati in 2000.  His research and teaching interests include corrections (prisons, probation, correctional interventions), criminological theory, criminal law, and crime in the media.  He has published numerous book chapters and scholarly journal articles in these areas. 

(5) Joan Peterson is a graduate of UMD in Speech Pathology. She worked in St. Paul and Duluth Public Schools as School Speech Language Pathologist until retirement. In 1992 her sister, Barbara Lund, was murdered by her estranged husband in a domestic shooting. Joan has been actively involved with the issue of gun violence prevention since 2000 when she attended the Million Mom March in Washington D.C. Joan is now the Co-President of the Northland Brady/Protect Minnesota Chapter; on Board of Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs; Board Chair of Protect Minnesota, working to end gun violence and of the national Brady Campaign to prevent gun violence. 

(6) Jacqueline Buffington-Vollum is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at UMD.  A forensic clinical psychologist by training, her primary teaching and research interests revolve around the overrepresentation of people with mental illness in the criminal justice system and how the system can most effectively and ethically respond.  Mental illness stigma and the media's role in propagating this is another of her focus areas.  She is a co-author of the book, Criminalization of Mental Illness: Crisis and Opportunity for the Justice System (2nd edition).

(7) Scott Vollum is an Assistant Professor in the Sociology-Anthropology Department at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. At this time, his primary areas of academic interest/research are the death penalty, lethal violence, violence against animals, restorative justice, media and crime, and moral disengagement. He currently teaches classes on violence/non-violence, the death penalty, restorative justice, sociology of law and research methods. He is author of the book Last Words and The Death Penalty: Voices of the Condemned and Their Co-Victims and co-author of the book The Death Penalty: Constitutional Issues, Commentaries and Case Briefs



UMD Office of Civic Engagement

UMD Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs

UMD College of Liberal Arts

UMD College of Education and Human Service Professionals

UMD Department of Psychology

UMD Center for Ethics and Public Policy

"Copper & Nickel Mining in Minnesota"

Panel Discussion

April 9th at 7:00 pm (Bohannon Hall 90)

Mining is at the center of life in northern Minnesota. Despite this centrality, much ink has been spilled over recent plans to build copper-nickel mines in the Iron Range. It's a different kind of mining for Minnesota, laden with extreme rewards – and serious risks.

For more information on this issue, see the following articles: (MPR & DNR).  

The CEPP will host a panel discussion equally representing both sides of this important and contentious issue. The goal is to create an open discussion in which many sides can exchange ideas/concerns in a respectful atmosphere.    

The panel:

(1) Don Fosnacht – NRRI, Director of CARTD:   

 Fosnacht is the director of the Center for Applied Research and Technology Development. He is a metallurgical engineer with a broad background that includes minerals extraction and minerals processing, extractive and physical metallurgy and analytical chemistry. He is also a seasoned technical manager with 20+ years experience in managing and directing research programs and technology development. He has been trained in project management, total quality management, continuous improvement processes along with various statistical tools and methodologies. He consults with various clients on business improvement specializing in yield and profitability enhancement and cost reduction. He is a partner in Steel Profitability Consulting, Inc. (a firm that serves the metals industry in business enhancement).

(2) Betsy Daub – Friends of BWCA, Policy Director: 

Daub has extensive experience in conservation policy,including six years at Audubon Minnesota, where she served as Forest Program Director, Acting State Director, and Senior Director for Conservation Programs. Her work at Audubon included substantial efforts regarding management of the Superior National Forest and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Most recently, Daub taught science in St. Paul schools.

(3) Nancy Schuldt -- Water Projects Coordinator, Fond du Lac:

Schuldt serves as the Fond du Lac Water Projects Coordinator. Her water quality monitoring and quality assurance plans were critical to the finalization of Tribal water quality standards, and provided a model for other EPA Region 5 Tribes entering similar phases of their own water projects. She directed research into fish contaminants and sediment chemistry to characterize mercury impacts to Fond du Lac Band members, participates in numerous local and regional working groups to ensure the tribal perspective is represented, and initiated a cooperative wastewater management project with the non-tribal community to protect Big Lake, a heavily developed lake on the Reservation. She is also responsible for the tribe’s nonpoint source management program, and environmental review of mining and energy industry impacts to trust resources.

(4) Tom Landwehr  -- DNR Commissioner:

Before being appointed (by Governor Dayton) as DNR commissioner, Landwehr was the assistant state director for The Nature Conservancy in Minnesota, North and South Dakota. Before leaving the DNR in 1999, Landwehr worked under the agency for 17 years as a research biologist, wildlife manager and Wetland Wildlife Program leader.  He's also been a state conservation director for Ducks Unlimited in Minnesota and Iowa.

(5) Bob McFarlin -- Vice President of Public and Government Affairs, Twin Metals Minnesota: 

Prior to joining Twin Metals, McFarlin was a vice president in the corporate, community and public affairs practice in the Minneapolis-St. Paul office of Weber Shandwick. McFarlin also served 14 years (nonconsecutive) in public service in a variety of public and government affairs roles at the Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) and was appointed acting commissioner of Mn/DOT by former Governor Tim Pawlenty in February 2008. McFarlin has also served as president of MCF Consulting Group; executive director to the Board of Trustees at Minnesota State Colleges and Universities; public affairs director for the Minnesota Petroleum Council and as staff to the Minnesota House of Representatives.

"Escape to Gold Mountain"

David H.T. Wong
April 11th at 4:00 pm (Humanities 314)

The history of Chinese immigration to Canada and the US has been fraught with sadness and indignity; newcomers to North America encountered discrimination, subjugation, and separation from loved ones.

Despite such obstacles, these Chinese newcomers persevered to create a better life for the generations to come.

Escape to Gold Mountain is the first graphic novel to tell their story: based on historical documents and interviews with elders, this is a vivid history of the Chinese in their search for “Gold Mountain” (the Chinese colloquialism for North America) as seen through the eyes of the Wong family. They traverse the challenges of eking out an existence in their adopted homeland with hope and determination, creating a poignant immigrant’s legacy for their sons and daughters.

Join us for a presentation by the author of this powerful book.

Sponsored by:

UMD Department of Writing Studies;

UMD Office of Cultural Diversity;

UMD Office of Sustainability;

UMD Alworth Institute;

UMD Center for Ethics and Public Policy

UM System Arts & Humanities Event Grant

UMD Asian & Pacific American Student Association

UMD College of Liberal Arts Teaching Grant

The UM Institute for Advanced Study

"How We Make Political Decisions and Why It Matters" 

Karen Shanton

Legislative Studies Specialist, National Conference of State Legislatures

April 22nd at 4:00 pm (ABAH 235)

"Why do liberals and conservatives often stake out opposite positions on the same issue? Why does one political ad swing public opinion more than another? Advances in cognitive science have unearthed important insights about how people process political information and make political decisions. These insights can help us understand why liberal cousin Casey butts heads with conservative cousin Chris over Thanksgiving dinner and why one same-sex marriage campaign ‘moves the needle’ more than another. In this talk, I describe some cognitive scientific discoveries about political decision-making and highlight some of their implications for political discourse and social activism."

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) is a bipartisan organization that serves the legislators and staffs of the nation's 50 states, commonwealths, and territories. NCSL provides research, technical assistance, and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues.

"American Inequality and the Idea of Personal Responsibility"
Joshua Broady Preiss
Assistant Professor
Program in Philosophy, Politics, & Economics (PPE)
Minnesota State University, Mankato
April 20th at 4:00 pm (SCC 120)

"Economist Robert Frank writes, 'Some moral philosophers address
inequality by invoking principles of justice or fairness.  But because they have been unable to forge broad agreement about what their principles mean in practice, they have made little progress.'  In this essay, I dispute his claim that philosophers really disagree so much that their theories are of little use.  In practice, in the status quo, philosophers agree far more than we appear to. Given its prevalence in American political discourse, including successive versions of the Republican Party’s Contract with America, I begin this search for agreement with the idea of personal responsibility, and a group of theories that Elizabeth Anderson labels 'luck egalitarian'.

Luck egalitarians generally intend to articulate and defend a particular notion of an ideally just society.  Nonetheless, their work, combined with recent economic data on equality and social mobility, provide what Amartya Sen has recently called a 'plural grounding' for a number of policy priorities in the status quo United States. In short, Frank is mistaken.  This broad agreement on how to further justice, moreover, reaches beyond luck egalitarians to include some of their chief critics, including Elizabeth Anderson and Jonathan Wolff. This analysis promises to be of interest to any theorist and policy maker concerned with the practical implications of recent work in the moral and political philosophy of personal responsibility, or, really, anyone interested in making
American society comparatively just."

Joshua Broady Preiss is Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy and the Program in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) at Minnesota State University.  Prior to coming to MSU in 2010, Preiss taught for three years at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania.  His current research is in moral philosophy and public policy, including ethics and economics, value pluralism, institutional approaches to diversity, freedom and markets, and the idea of equality.  Preiss has presented at such institutions as the University of Chicago, the University of Minnesota, Georgetown University, the University of Edinburgh, Jesuit University in Krakow, Poland, University of Minho, Portugal, and the University of Cape Town, South Africa.  His recent work has appeared in Social Theory and Practice, Ethics, Res Publica, and the Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy.  Preiss received his B.A. from Gustavus Adolphus College and his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Chicago.

"Toward a Humane Libertarianism"
Russ Stewart
Former Duluth City Council Member
Instructor of Philosophy, Lake Superior College
March 19th at 6:00 pm (SCC 120)

"In this talk I will describe a spectrum of 'libertarian' political philosophies including classical liberalism, minarchism, and anarchism. I will argue that libertarian political philosophies are often inaccurately portrayed as a 'philosophies of greed,' and that in fact the libertarian perspective is humanitarian. I will defend libertarianism against several common criticisms. Finally I will close with an analysis of three contemporary political issues (the war on drugs, foreign war, and health care) showing that in each case the libertarian approach would best promote the general welfare."

Russ Stewart teaches philosophy at Lake Superior College. He also served two terms on the Duluth City Council where he was first elected as a member of the Green Party. Eight years in local politics forced him to confront the reality of government inefficiency, waste, and corruption. He emerged from this experience a self-proclaimed libertarian and advocate of individual autonomy.

"Politics and Leadership in Duluth"
Gary Doty
Former Mayor of Duluth, State Legislator and County Commissioner 
February 15th at 4:00 pm (Griggs Center)

Join Gary Doty for anecdotes and insight into the leadership styles of Jeno Paulucci, John Fedo, the Klapmeiers, and other “giants” of Duluth, including his own.

The presentation is sponsored by the Kirby Leadership Institute, the Center for Ethics and Public Policy and University for Seniors. 

The presentation is free and open to the public.

In 1974, Gary Doty was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives (District 8A). He served from 1975–1976. In November 1991, Doty was, then, elected mayor of Duluth. He was re-elected to two additional four-year terms. He retired from office in January, 2004.

"Minnesota and Gay Marriage"
Panel Discussion 
February 6th at 6:00 pm (Bohannon Hall 90)

In 2011, the Minnesota House voted (70-62) to put an amendment on the 2012 ballot that would define marriage as the union of a man and woman. Recently, the Advocate (a national gay news magazine) gave Minneapolis the title -- "Gayest City in America."  According to U.S. Census Data, of major cities, Minneapolis has the fourth-highest gay population -- 12.5 percent. Given such a confluence of elements, one should expect serious discussion regarding the MN Marriage Amendment. The CEPP will host a panel discussion equally representing both sides of this important and contentious issue. The goal is to create an open discussion in which many sides can exchange ideas/concerns in a respectful atmosphere.     

The panel:

1.     Senator D. Scott Dibble -- MN DFL Senator from District 60. Dibble became involved in politics in the mid-1980's working on issues concerning the civil rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) communities. In 2000, Dibble ran for a seat in the Minnesota House of Representatives, becoming the third openly gay legislator to serve in the Minnesota Legislature.  After serving one term in the House, Dibble ran for State Senate in 2002 where he is now serving in his third term.

2.     Jason Adkins -- Vice Chairman of the Minnesota for Marriage campaign, the coalition of religious and secular organizations created to pass the marriage protection amendment. He is also executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, the public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Minnesota.  Prior to his advocacy work for the Church, Adkins was an attorney at the Institute for Justice, a public interest law firm.  He has clerked for both state and federal appellate judges, and received his law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School, where he continues to serve as an adjunct professor.

3.     Teresa Collett -- Professor of Law at the University of St. Thomas. Professor Collett is a nationally sought-after scholar and speaker on the topics of marriage, religion and bioethics. She has published numerous legal articles and is the co-author of a law casebook on professional responsibility and co-editor of a collection of essays exploring "Catholic" perspectives on American law. Professor Collett is an elected member of the American Law Institute, and has testified before committees of the United States Senate and House of Representatives, as well as before legislative committees in several states. She has served as special Attorney General for the States of Oklahoma and Kansas , as well as assisting other state Attorneys General in defending laws protecting human life and marriage. Prior to joining St. Thomas in 2003, Professor Collett taught at the South Texas College of Law where she established the nation's first annual symposium on legal ethics.

4.     Jason Ford -- Associate Professor in the Philosophy department at the University of Minnesota, Duluth.  He received his Bachelors degree in Philosophy from the University of California, Berkeley, and his Doctorate from the University of California, Irvine.  He has an abiding interest in Constitutional law, and has taught Philosophy of Law at UMD for six years.

"Doubling Survival in Metastatic Colon Cancer:  Is It Worth It?  Can 'We' Afford It?"

Jonathan Sande
Director, St. Mary's Medical Center Ethics Program
January 25th at 5:00pm (Montague Hall 203)

Dr. Sande will discuss a patient who received "state of the art" care for metastatic colon cancer.  He will highlight the costs associated with such care, and introduce, for further discussion, ethical and public policy issues he believes to be at the center of current controversies in US Healthcare.

 Dr. Sande is a graduate of St. Olaf College, and attended Mayo Medical School in Rochester, MN.  He completed his residency in Internal Medicine and fellowship in Hematology and Oncology at the Mayo College of Medicine, and is board certified in Internal Medicine, Hematology, and Oncology.  A former fellow in the Pew Program in Medicine, Arts, and the Social Sciences at the University of Chicago, he is currently a doctoral candidate in ethics at the University of Chicago Divinity School, a consultant in Hematology/Oncology at Essentia Health East, Director of the St. Mary's Medical Center Ethics Program, and Director of the Essentia Health East End of Life Initiative

"Poverty in Duluth: Alien Neighbors, Plastic Santas, and the Uncharted Future"

Dave Benson 
Executive Director of the Damiano Center
December 5th at 5:00pm (UMD Library Rotunda)

"Consideration of the vagaries of discussing and measuring poverty in an industrial society; and a consideration of poverty in Duluth--who lives in poverty, what's happening right now, and ways to think about what comes next."

Dave Benson is the Executive Director of the Damiano Center, which provides meals, clothing, and other emergency assistance to people living in poverty in Duluth. He has been at the Damiano 
Center for seven years and has also worked as a teacher, writer, editor, and naturalist.  He is a native of Minneapolis and attended Gustavus Adolphus College, Yale University, and the University of Minnesota--Twin Cities. He is the author of over one hundred published articles and two award-winning books, Stories in Log and Stone: the Legacy of the New Deal in Minnesota State Parks, and Owls of the North: a Naturalist's Handbook. For more information about the Damiano Center, see

"Capitalism, Marx, and the Present Crisis"  

Richard Hudelson
Professor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin - Superior
December 2nd

"The present global economic crisis seems far from over.  Millions are unemployed and everywhere there is talk of a “new normal” of lowered expectations for the future.  Why is this?  Must this be?  I will defend the view that Marx’s theory of capitalism needs to inform our attempts to answer these questions.  We will consider issues in ethics, philosophy of science, and political theory."

"Intersections of Racism, Sexism, and Warism"

Duane L. Cady 
Hamline University
November 10th at 4:00pm (UMD Library Rotunda)

Duane L. Cady earned his Ph.D. in philosophy at Brown University.  He has been teaching since 1971, spending most of his career at Hamline University in St. Paul.  He is the author of FROM WARISM TO PACIFISM: A MORAL CONTINUUM (1989; second edition 2010) and MORAL VISION: HOW EVERYDAY LIFE SHAPES ETHICAL THINKING (2005). He co-authored HUMANITARIAN INTERVENTION: JUST WAR VS. PACIFISM (1996), co-edited three anthologies, and has published more than fifty articles in professional journals, most on ethics and history of philosophy.  Professor Cady has been honored for his teaching both locally and nationally.  He is a past President of Concerned Philosophers for Peace and served six years on the National Council of the Fellowship of Reconciliation.

Professor Cady's visit has been made possible by the Alworth Institute, The Center for Ethics and Public PolicyAfrican American Studies and CLA. 

"Ritual and the Vulnerability of a Prosperous World"

Michael Ing
Indiana University -- Bloomington
Tuesday, October 4

"In this presentation I will interpret several passages from a Confucian text called which human beings thought of themselves in relation to ritual become more complex as the “Liyun.” I will argue that the narrative of ritual put forth in the “Liyun” is a narrative of growing complexity where the performances of ritual as well as the ways in society develops. More specifically, I will argue that the “Liyun” encourages its readers to ambivalently accept this narrative. By this I mean that the text asserts that humanity once lived in a safe, yet simple, condition that transitioned into a prosperous, yet vulnerable, condition. The text encourages its readers to pursue prosperity, yet to recognize that the only way to create prosperity is to develop more sophisticated forms of ritual as well as more crafty notions of the self, thereby allowing for the possibility that human beings might ruin prosperity."

"The Demands of Morality: How Hard Is It to Be Good?"

Matthew Braddock
Duke University
Thursday, October 14

"An indomitable resistance to demanding moral views takes this form:

The Demandingness Objection
(Premise)       Moral view V demands too much of us.
(Premise)       If a moral view demands too much of us, then it is mistaken.
(Conclusion)    So, moral view V is mistaken.

Objections of this sort dog not only major theories in normative
ethics but also prominent normative principles and particular claims
in applied ethics and political philosophy.  This paper (i) it
clarifies and distinguishes between various demandingness objections,
(ii) constructs a formidable and philosophically interesting form of
the demandingness objection that targets a wide scope of moral views,
and (iii) defuses this important objection by developing an argument
from unreliability the form of which may, interestingly, be
effectively deployed in other areas of philosophy."

"Ethical Theories and the Correlation Problem"

Jussi Suikkanen
University of Birmingham, UK
Colloquium at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, 9-19-2011, 5pm

"Different normative ethical theories postulate that different properties correlate with something’s being morally right. Consequentialists say that the property of "having the best consequences of the available options” always correlates to the property of being morally right. Virtue ethicists say that the property of “being what a fully virtuous agent would do” always correlates to the property of being morally right.  The correlation challenge: If one is an ethical theorist, one must be able to explain why one’s own preferred correlation (co-instantiation) thesis is true, and not the others. Why is it that these two properties are necessarily co-instantiated?  Why, for example, would consequences make something always morally right, and not something else? Is it the meaning of terms, or is it metaphysics, or another thing?"

"Sincerity and Art in the Public Sphere"

Dan Nolan
Department of Foreign Languages and Literature, UMD

Friday, December 3

"Is Art critical to public culture?  This talk responds to a question that for many would seem rather innocuous.  For many the relevance of artistic works in public life is something that could easily be taken for granted.  And not without reason.  It is surprising, then, to learn that the chief twentieth century theorist of public culture, Jürgen Habermas, would argue against rather than for the relevance of artistic works in the public sphere.  This talk will attempt, first, to show that Habermas has some good reasons for remaining skeptical about the broader relevance of artistic works in civil discourse. Then, I will attempt to complicate Habermas's view by reconsidering the central term he uses when when describing art in the modern era: sincerity. Habermas offers some insights into the problematic way modern works of art emphasize sincerity.  In doing so he shows how and to some extent why art has shifted art away from the center and towards the margins of public culture.  But Habermas's version of sincerity is limited, and his insistence on a narrow conception of the nature of sincerity closes off an important reflection on the way public culture relies on changing forms of exposure, one rather important aspect of which is only to be found in art."

"Down-Home Global Cooking: Why Cosmopolitanism versus Localism is a False Dichotomy, and How Our Food Can Show Us the Way to a Third Option"

Lisa Heldke
Sponberg Chair of Ethics,
Gustavus Adolphus College

Friday, February 18

Sex Trafficking of Women and Children in Our Community: A Panel Discussion”
Thursday, March 3

"A panel discussion on Sex Trafficking in Minnesota and Duluth with Candy Harsh
ner, PAVSA Director; Sergeant Ann Clancy, Police Department, Scan Division; Bree Bussey, MSW, Shelter Coordinator American Indian Community Housing Organization; Dr. Jane Ellen Maddy, Duluth Branch of AAUW, and Dr.
Sean Walsh, Director of the UMD Center for Ethics and Public Policy."

"Toward a Theory of Moral Character: Ethics and Social Psychology"

Christian Miller 
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Wake Forest University
Tuesday, March 29 

"Drawing on work in personality and social psychology, I begin to
sketch a new theory of the moral character traits that many of us
actually possess. More specifically, I focus on one such trait, which
pertains to helping other people. I argue that this trait is not a
virtue and leads to helping behavior which, while stable over time,
seems to be inconsistent across situations. The theory has
implications for debates in psychology about situationism, CAPS theory
(Cognitive-affective personality system theory), and other views, and
in philosophy for debates about the empirical adequacy of virtue
ethics and recent work by Gilbert Harman and John Doris."

"Integrity Uncluttered"

Howard Curzer
Texas Tech University
Monday, April 4 

"I shall argue for the following fourteen claims. (1) Integrity is not
the same as across-the-board honesty. (2) It is compatible with
morality. (3) It does not encompass all or even most of virtue, but
rather governs only situations in which reputation is at stake. (4)
Integrity is about commitments, but not all commitments, and not only
commitments. (5) It concerns only those commitments that are important
to one?s reputation. (6) The self is one?s history, plus one?s future
projects (including one?s commitments), plus one?s current character.
(7) Integrity consists in accurately presenting one?s self to others.
(8) Expressing commitments open-mindedly in public forums is virtuous,
but not part of integrity. (9) Acting on one?s commitments is neither
necessary nor sufficient for the possession of integrity. (10)
Integrity precludes lying to oneself, but it is compatible with being
lied to by oneself. (11) Integrity does not require that people
acquire their commitments authentically. Perhaps most surprisingly, a

person?s commitments should not be (12) held unconditionally, (13)

compatible with each other, or (14) endorsed wholeheartedly."