Thursday, October 30, 2014



Dr. Tom Buller

Illinois State University

November 10, 2014, 11:00 -12:30

MTCC Auditorium

Please join the Center for the Ethics in the Professions in a discussion about advance directives in the context of research. Although advance directives have become a familiar instrument within the context of treatment, there has been minimal support for their expansion into the context of research.  In this paper, Dr. Buller argues that the principle of precedent autonomy that grants a competent person the right to refuse life-sustaining treatment when later incompetent, also grants a competent person the right to consent to research than is greater than minimal risk. An examination of the principle of precedent autonomy reveals that a future-binding research decision is within the scope of a competent person’s critical interests, if the decision is consistent with what the person believes gives her life intrinsic value.

Tom Bulleris Professor and Chair of the Department of Philosophy at Illinois State University.  His main research interests are in Bioethics and Neuroethics.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Repost: Boeing Scholars Academy Program Instructor, Kaela Gerald, writes about the Ethics Bowl

For the past four years, CSEP has helped organize an ethics bowl for the Boeing Scholars Academy, a summer program for Chicago-area high school students that introduces them to them to diverse science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) career fields and involves the students in searching for solutions to pressing world problems with both significant technological and ethical aspects.

Recently one of the Program Instructors, Kaela Gerald, shared some of her thoughts about the ethics bowl and how it challenged her students. If you are interested in organizing a similar event, please let us know!

RightWrong. It Depends. To me, these make up the three way junction at the end of the ethics road. On this journey, I believe the scholars found a better definition for ethics and learned why it was important.
Ethics has to do with what is right or wrong.” “Ethics has to do with people’s moral beliefs.”  “Ethics consist of standard behaviors that is accepted by society.” These are some answers I got from my cluster as we prepared for the annual Ethics Bowl that took place during the second week of the program. The Ethics Bowl is an exciting, competitive tournament aimed to model the best methods of reasoning in practical and professional ethics. The scholars gained a valuable experience of analyzing two cases and participating in an ethical discussion. One of the things that stood out to me, was how the Ethics Bowl was different to a debate. The scholars were asked to take a position on 1)Whether nations, especially those who contribute the most to pollution, should be required to take in climate change refugees from regions facing rising sea levels and 2) The creation of a new charter for a Finnish School of Chicago, as a member of the Chicago Board of Education. Unlike a debate, the scholars took part in more of a back and forth discussion in the support of their positions. This required listening to key points of the opposing team and not only disagreeing politely, but acknowledging the points of agreement. In addition, asking intuitive questions for clarification and support.
I admired the format, rules, and process of the Ethics Bowl. It allows one to be aware and to give thoughtful consideration to different viewpoints. To be successful, having a plethora of different viewpoints is essential to deciding the most ethical conclusion. During the preparation time, I asked each scholar in my cluster to state their position with reasons, for both cases. We then collectively decided on pros and cons for each case. These tactics seemed to aid the scholars tremendous as the competed. They were able to give insightful responses, specific to ethical considerations asked by their opponents and the judges.
The theme, “STEM Diplomacy” was definitely present throughout the Ethics Bowl. Scholars learned how to disagree diplomatically and with respect, a life skill they should always carry with them.
Kaela Gerald - Program Instructor
Kaela Gerald
Kaela is pursuing a Co-terminal degree in Chemical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering. She is from the Caribbean Island of St. Lucia.
Kaela enjoys going to the beach, dancing and cooking. She hopes to make a difference in the world through advances in science and engineering, mentoring and helping others. As a program instructor, for summer 2014, she felt truly inspired by all the IIT Boeing Scholars and staff.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Call for Abstracts: The Human Sciences after the Decade of the Brain – Perspectives on the Neuro-Turn in the Social Sciences and the Humanities

CSEP Director and co-organizer of the conference, Dr. Elisabeth Hildt, invites interested scholars to submit an abstract by December 15, 2014.

The Human Sciences after the Decade of the Brain – Perspectives on the Neuro-Turn in the SocialSciences and the Humanities.

Philosophy Department, Johannes Gutenberg-University of Mainz, Germany

March 30 – March 31, 2015


It is now almost 25 years since the U.S. Congress authorized the then president, George Bush sr., to proclaim the decade beginning January 1, 1990 as the Decade of the Brain. This proclamation intimulated a number of initiatives that substantially benefitted neuroscience research in the following years. Alongside this rise of neuroscience and the corresponding increase of public awareness, many disciplines in the humanities and social sciences have shifted towards more brain based and evolutionary informed approaches. New research fields such as Neuroethics, Neuroeconomics, Cognitive Cultural Studies, Neuroaesthetics or even Neurotheology have gained a following. In addition to surveying the mutual interactions between the cognitive neurosciences and
the social sciences and humanities, this interdisciplinary symposium investigates the methodological and conceptual prospects and perils of choosing a neuroscience approach to the social sciences and the humanities. The symposium aims to shed light on a broad range of epistemological, historical and sociological questions about the purported neuro-turn in the social sciences and the humanities including (but not limited to):

  • How and why have brain based approaches to the social sciences and humanities developed?
  • What exactly distinguishes cognitive and brain based approaches from their traditional counterparts?
  • How are brain-based sub-disciplines of the traditional humanities institutionalized?
  • How does research policy contribute to the development of a neuro-turn in the social sciences and the humanities?
  • Are there common motives for turning to cognitive neuroscience approaches in the different disciplines of social sciences and humanities? If so, which?
  • Are there any historical examples of a turn to brain based approaches in the social sciences and the humanities?
  • If so, what could be learned from this history for practicing social sciences and humanities today?
  • What, if anything, can the humanities and the social sciences learn from the neurosciences?
  • What, if anything, can the neurosciences learn from the social sciences and the humanities?
  • How does neuroscience change the social sciences and the humanities?
  • How do the humanities and the social sciences change neuroscience?

We invite submission of abstracts of 300-500 words from researchers in relevant disciplines such as history of science, science and technology studies, philosophy of science, philosophy of mind, cognitive neuroscience, psychology or any sub-discipline of the social sciences or the humanities, which approaches its subject from a cognitive science perspective. Abstracts should be emailed to leefmann[at] by December 15, 2014. Applicants will be notified by mid-January 2015 whether their abstract has been accepted.

This symposium is part of the international project ‘The Neuro-Turn in the Social Sciences and the Humanities’ (NESSHI) funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). For information on the project see:

Monday, October 13, 2014

IIT Students, Interested in an Essay Contest?

Every year, the Elie Wiesel Foundation sponsors an essay contest for undergraduate juniors and seniors. This year, the topic is:

"Articulate with clarity an ethical issue that you have encountered and analyze what it has taught you about ethics and yourself."

Have some ideas? Want some inspiration? Stop by the Ethics Center to chat!

We would love to have one or more IIT students be a part of this competition. Essays should be between 3,000 to 4,000 words and can be about any topic, as long as it explores the theme of ethics. The Foundation is offering a $5,000 cash prize for the winning essay. Final submission for the essays is December 8, 2014.

 For more information, visit the contest web site.