The list will be updated as more information becomes available.
Larry Marshall (Stanford Law School)
“The Death Penalty in the Twenty-First Century”
Over the past decade, public support for the death and the number of death sentences imposed have decreased substantially. Several jurisdictions have abolished the death penalty during this period. Prof. Marshall — who has been involved in death penalty cases for more than two decades — will discuss these developments, with a particular focus on the current effort to repeal the death penalty in California, the State with the largest number of death row inmates.
Craig Garner (Stanford School of Medicine)
“Ethical Issues Associated with Developing Pharmacotherapies for Cognitive Impairment in Down Syndrome”
For decades, parents with children with Down syndrome were told that their children have irreversible intellectual disabilities. Studies in animal models of Down syndrome have shown that the triplication of genes on chromosome 21 does not fatally disrupt neuronal circuit function and that a growing number of drug based strategies can be used to enhance cognitive function. Some parents welcome these new possibilities, while others fear that cognitive enhancers will adversely affect their children and want no part of them. What ethical consideration should guide this wave of potential change?
Kendra Bischoff (Center for Ethics in Society)
“Ethics and Education Equity”
There is a great deal of inequality in educational opportunities and outcomes in the United States. Although most Americans would agree with the ideal of equal opportunity, there is wide disagreement about how we achieve that goal, how we conceive of and measure equality, and what role the governmentshould play in generating social equality via school policy. In this talk, we will explore the dimensions of education equity, the tensions that arise around school policy, and some of the normative considerations that can be used to frame education debates.
Julie Reed (Haas Center for Public Service) & Jeffrey Betcher (Quesada Gardens Initiative)
“Cheap Trick: Ethical Considerations in Cultivating Campus-Community Partnerships”
American universities and the local communities in which they reside often interact in the spirit of pursuing the common good. Their noble intentions may appear simple, but the relationships and processes necessary for the partnership can become complex, nuanced and ever-changing. Efforts to “do the right thing” and “make a difference” can obscure other realities beneath the surface: power imbalances, inaccurate assumptions, and communication challenges. In this context, are these collaborators obligated to ensure that the processes are reciprocal and that the outcomes are mutually beneficial? Or is it every stakeholder for itself as long as they “do no harm”? Is one entity inevitably more dependent on the other, or are they interdependent, whether seen or unseen? “I need you to need me. I’m beggin’ you to beg me.” Using a hypothetical case study, Julie Reed and Jeffrey Betcher will facilitate a discussion of these ethical issues in campus-community partnerships.
Karl Eikenberry (Former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan)
“The Ethical Dimension of Wartime Commands and Organizations”
Leaders of military commands and government organizations operating in conflict zones often face ethical dilemmas as they carry out their missions. Integrity in reporting is vital, but bearers of “bad news” are sometimes understandably concerned with professional ramifications. Conduct on the battlefield must be rule-bound; but when violations occur, leaders prefer if at all possible to deal with them internally even when protocols might require or suggest informing higher echelons. Proven subordinates who make a rare but serious error in judgment may be subject to adverse personnel action and seek protection from their leaders, who in turn must consider fairness and protocol. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, drawing upon his experiences as a military commander and leading the US Embassy in Afghanistan, as well as assignments in other parts of the world as a US Army officer, will discuss these challenges and ways to mitigate organizational risk.
Richard Banks (Stanford Law School)
“Is Marriage for White People? How the African American Marriage Decline Affects Everyone”
Nora Engstrom (Stanford Law School)
Engstrom will examine a peculiar form of unexamined personal injury law practice that has proliferated across the United States. These law firms, which she calls settlement mills, are characterized by their high claim volume, aggressive advertising, significant delegation to non-attorneys, entrepreneurial focus, and quick resolution of claims, typically without initiation of suit. Drawing on voluminous documents extracted from federal court and state bar disciplinary files, as well as fifty interviews with current and past law firm employees, Engstrom demonstrates that settlement mills represent a relatively new, largely distinct, and surprisingly prevalent form of law firm organization. After setting forth the characteristics that distinguish settlement mills from conventional personal injury practices, Engstrom will consider the forces that have contributed to their rise, analyzes how settlement mills resolve claims in practice and to what effect, and asks why insurers (not facing a realistic threat of trial) bargain with settlement mills at all. She will argue that settlement mills are not only organized differently than their conventional counterparts; they actually settle claims differently, in a manner that challenges prevailing theories of settlement as well as our basic notions of compensation through tort.
Sam Arnold (Center for Ethics in Society)
“The Significance of Economic Freedom”
What is economic freedom, and how important is it? These questions represent a crucial junction point in the history of liberal thought. Some liberals, like JS Mill and John Rawls, place little importance on economic liberties (the liberties of working and owning, as we might put them). Others–those of a more libertarian bent–regard economic liberties as extremely important–indeed, so important as to place stringent limits on permissible state action. In this talk, I explore the meaning and significance of economic liberties, and suggest that, while these liberties are, indeed, important, they are of less importance than other, more familiar “basic liberties” like freedom of speech, association, and religion. Accordingly, the state may restrict economic liberty in the name of social values like efficiency, the general good, or distributive justice.