Applied Ethics & Philosophy (on “Radio CREUM”)


As some of you will have noticed, I spent the summer as a Visiting Researcher at the “Centre de Recherche en Ethique de l’Université de Montréal.” CREUM is a wonderful place; smart people, great hosts.
Two weeks ago I was interviewed, along with fellow visitor Lisa Eckenwiler, by CREUM’s director Daniel Winstock, for a podcast called “Radio CREUM.”

The general theme of the interview was the relationship between Philosophy (Daniel, Lisa, and I all hold PhD’s in Philosophy) and “applied ethics” (a term generally meant to encompass fields such as business ethics, bioethics, environmental ethics, professional ethics, and so on.)

Here’s the link to the page with the link to the interview: Daniel Weinstock, Lisa Eckenwiler & Chris Macdonald on Radio CREUM
(The page is in French. For those of you who don’t read French, just click on the link that says “Cliquez ici,” or on the musical note icon.)
The interview is about an hour long, including a long-ish musical prelude, interlude, and ending by Montreal’s very own “General International.” The introductions are in French, but the interview itself is in English.

Just so you have a sense of what the interview is about, here are a few points/topics that get raised:

  • The interdisciplinarity of Applied Ethics, and the unique (?) role of philosophers.
  • The idea that in Applied Ethics, you can think about how scholarly theories help us solve practical problems, but also about how practical problems help produce better scholarly theories.
  • The question of how much practical knowledge philosophers (and other specialized scholars) need in order to do good work in applied ethics (e.g., how much do I need to know about business to do business ethics, or about genetics to study ethical issues in biotechnology?).
  • When scholars in applied ethics want to have influence, is that possible? How? Is there a role for them beyond the university?

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