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Center for Practical & Professional Ethics Sacramento State University

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Fall Symposia Archive

16th Annual Fall Ethics Symposium: Ethics and the City

(a co-production of Cosumnes River College and Sac State's Ethics Center)

Cities are underrated engines of well-being. But in many ways their performance is handicapped by policy affected by ignorance, inertia, racism, and other forms of inequity. Can the creative and cooperative forces driving cities continue to outpace the effects of such policies? What sort of policies effectively rectify the handicapping forces and encourage the creative forces? Speakers will take up these and related questions from different disciplinary and ideological perspectives.

Speakers:

  • Ryan Muldoon, Philosophy, Buffalo. Cities and the Possibility of Inclusive Freedom, Wednesday, September 29, 1-2:30pm Watch Video
  • Eric van Holm, California Department of Justice. The Wicked Roots of Gentrification, Tuesday, October 5, 5-6:30pm Watch Video
  • Paola Suarez, Economics, Seton Hall. Women and the Gig Economy, Thursday, October 7, 10:30am-noon. Watch Video
  • Jesus Hernandez, JCH Research. When Public Policy Becomes a Public Nuisance: Fiduciary Responsibility and the Myth of Equity in Sacramento, Tuesday, October 12, 10:30am-noon Watch Video
  • Robert Wassmer, Public Policy and Administration, CSU Sacramento. The Ethics and Consequences of California’s Local Government Restrictions on Housing, Wednesday, October 13, 10:30-noon Watch Video. And see Prof. Wassmer's Slide Deck

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15th Annual Fall Ethics Symposium: The Ethics of Higher Education

(a co-production of Cosumnes River College and Sac State's Ethics Center)

October 27 - 28, 2020

Concerns are growing about a crisis in higher education. Some of these concerns are about an ongoing lack of equity and access for historically disadvantaged populations, the high and rising tuition and fees that saddle college students with crippling long-term debt, and meeting not only the short-term, but also the long-term educational needs of students. These problems of quality, equity, and access have been exacerbated by the current COVID-19 pandemic. Our interdisciplinary ethics symposium will highlight problems, offer potential solutions and recognize bright spots in higher education.

Speakers:

  • Ed Bush (Cosumnes River College), The Paradox of Dismantling a Perfectly Designed System Watch video
  • Bryan Caplan (George Mason University), The Case for Educational Austerity Watch video
  • Marybeth Gasman (Rutgers University), Are We Ready to Educate a Diverse Nation? Watch video
  • Eric Helland (Claremont McKenna), Why Are the Prices So Damn High? Watch video

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14th Annual Fall Ethics Symposium: The Ethics of Having Children

(A co-production of Cosumnes River College and Sac State's Ethics Center)

November 18 – 19, 2019

Decisions we make about bringing other people into existence and parenting them are ethically fraught, and perhaps increasingly so. Additionally, these decisions are influenced by, and in turn influence, any number of developments in medical practice, public policy and law. Join us for an important conversation about the ethics of having children, as our visiting speakers address the following set of issues:

  • Having children adds people to an increasingly crowded and warming world. Should these concerns justify any moral or legal constraints on the decision to procreate? Is there an obligation to adopt already-existing children rather than create new ones?
  • Women facing the prospect of giving birth are subject to a dizzying array of solicited and unsolicited advice from any number of people — everyone from trusted medical professionals to random strangers on the street. How much of it is necessary? How much of it preserves the autonomy of the mother? How much of it promotes the welfare of the mother or the fetus? When does the institutional environment of giving birth lead to bad outcomes, especially in populations of marginalized racial groups? To what extent should we trust the reproductive medical and legal establishment?
  • Parents are typically thought to have an outsized influence over the person their child becomes. What responsibilities attach to this influence? In particular, what obligations do parents have to instill, or avoid instilling, their values in their children? Is it wrong to cause your child to be a Giants fan? Or a Christian? Or a Democrat?

Speakers

Full schedule of sessions

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13th Fall Symposium: The Ethics of Innovation and Entrepreneurship

November 5 – 6, 2018

In what ways can innovation and entrepreneurship contribute to the social good? How have innovation and entrepreneurship been vehicles for drastic improvements in living standards and human well-being? What stands in the way of these benefits extending to more and more people?

Speakers:

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12th Annual Fall Ethics Symposium: The Ethics of Saying Things

November 20 – 21, 2017

“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” –George Orwell

Does the first amendment have any limitations on modern American college campuses? Join us as we discuss the ethics of stating our opinions at the 12th annual Fall Ethics Symposium at CSUS & CRC.

Speakers:

  • Thomas Cushman (Wellesley College), ‘Who Gets to Speak and What Do They Get to Say?’ Watch video
  • Jonathan Miles (Quincy University), ‘Free Speech & Title IX’ Watch video
  • Elizabeth Nolan Brown (Reason), ‘Sneaky Threats to the First Amendment’ Watch video
  • George Yancey (Baylor University), ‘What it Costs Science When We Lose Academic Freedom’ Watch video
  • Kaycea Campbell (Pierce College), ‘The Voices of Today, A Place to Be Heard’ Watch video
  • Robert Taylor (UC Davis), ‘John Stuart Mill on Free Speech’ Watch video

Full schedule of sessions

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11th Annual Fall Ethics Symposium: The Ethics of Policing

November 21-22, 2016

Criminal justice reform is on the minds of many American citizens, and especially concerns about the use of aggressive tactics by law enforcement officers. In cities all over the country, law enforcement officers find themselves under intense scrutiny and criticism in the wake of several highly publicized and tragic instances of alleged police misconduct. How did we get into the current situation? What can we do to promote the morally best behavior in officers, the morally best outcomes for the communities they serve, and the morally best structures for accountability and reform?

Speakers:

  • Abigail Hall Blanco (University of Tampa), Police Miltarization and its Impact on Minority Groups Watch video
  • Claudio Vera Sanchez (Roosevelt Universeity), Police Violence and Legitimacy: Oakland, Chicago, Ferguson, and Beyond Watch video
  • Sanjay Marwah (CSU East Bay), Democratizing Police Accountability: The Role of Cognition Watch video
  • Chris Surprenant (University of New Orleans), Policing and Punishment: Philosophical Problems Watch video
  • Keith Staten (The Law Office of Keith J. Staten & Associates), Know Your Rights: A Historical Review of Your Rights Under the Constitution and How to Handle Police Encounters Watch video
  • Ryan Getty (CSU Sacramento), Police Training and Socialization Watch video

Full schedule of sessions

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10th Annual Fall Ethics Symposium: The Ethics of Nudges

November 16-17, 2015

How can we help ourselves and others make decisions where things go well for the one deciding, while still respecting the freedom of the decider? Such “nudging” can be a delicate and difficult task, as anyone knows who has tried to parent a teenager or help a friend quit smoking. And ever since the publication of Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein's 2008 book Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness, the concept of “nudging” -- trying to get people to decide what is best for themselves while still respecting their freedom -- has been receiving increasing attention in both academic and popular conversations. From the way a school cafeteria arranges the placement of its veggie and desert options, to the way a university arranges incentives for students to graduate, to the way a corporation structures its employee pension contributions, the concept of “nudges” -- and the related concepts of manipulation, choice architecture, and “libertarian paternalism” -- are hot topics. Is it really possible for individuals to “nudge” one another without manipulation or coercion? Is it really a wise idea for the government to get (or stay) in the business of “nudging” one of its citizens for that citizen's own good? Come join us for two days of reflection and discussion on these and other ethical questions surrounding “nudges.”

Speakers:

  • Timothy Houk (UC Davis), Nudged and Rational Watch Video
  • Moti Gorin (Colorado State), Much Ado about Nudging Watch Video
  • Dan Haybron (St. Louis University), Choice Architecture and Lifestyle Infrastructure Watch Video (Discussion/Q&A)
  • Gerald Dworkin (UC Davis), Nudge? Nudge? Think. Think Watch Video

Full schedule of sessions

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9th Annual Fall Ethics Symposium: Virtue in Politics

November 3, 2014

What is the role of virtue in politics? For example, how do activities like voting, campaigning, and governing bring out what is morally best (or worst) in human beings? Can or should politics seek to encourage the virtue of the polis (community) or its members? Such questions have been seriously discussed at least since Aristotle wrote on ethics and politics, and they remain with us today in the sometimes messy business of contemporary representative democracies. Some would advance somewhat optimistic answers to these questions, holding that we can and should expect (more) virtue in politics, and that there are many ways to get (more of) it. Others would advance somewhat skeptical answers, holding that politics is really not a good place to expect the cultivation of virtue, and that it is better for all of us to keep our expectations low here. Come join us for a day of reflection and discussion on these important questions.

Speakers:

  • Jason Brennan (Georgetown), Why Most Americans Shouldn't Vote Watch Video
  • Kimberly Nalder (CSU Sacramento), The Virtuous Election Cycle: Resisting Relentless Political Cynicism Watch Video
  • Daniel Hays Lowenstein (UCLA), Ethics in Public Life: Rules, Character, Conscientiousness Watch Video
  • Steven Wall (University of Arizona), Capitalism, Leisure and the Good Life Watch Video

Full schedule of sessions

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