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Center for Policy Studies

Public Affairs Discussion Group

Political Ethics – An Oxymoron?

Jeremy Bendik-Keymer, Ph.D. - Beamer-Schneider Professor in Ethics at Case Western Reserve University

Shannon E. French Ph.D. - Director, Inamori Center for Ethics and Excellence and Associate Professor of Philosophy at Case Western Reserve University

Joseph White, Ph.D. - Luxenberg Family Professor of Public Policy at Case Western Reserve University
Friday December 6, 2013
12:30-1:30 p.m.
Dampeer Room
Kelvin Smith Library
Case Western Reserve University

Dear Colleagues:

It’s a dirty job, but somebody has to do it. The word “politics” has positive connotations for a few political theorists, but most people seem to associate it with manipulation, coercion, lies and hypocrisy. One only has to look at current events to see that the popular view has a lot of truth. “Our side” may be better – because we think its lies are “white” (justified), or perhaps it doesn’t manipulate as effectively as the other side. In politics even more than other aspects of life, it is especially common to hear that something that would ordinarily be judged bad must be done for “the greater good” – and so that political actors will often have “dirty hands.”

How, then, can one talk about “political ethics?” What standards should be expected? This is a topic on which everyone can have an opinion and nobody has “the answer” – yet it may be the most important question about any political system. Join us for brief remarks by Professors Bendik-Keymer, French, and White and then, we hope, a wide-ranging discussion.

December 6 is the final Friday discussion of 2013. Many thanks to all who have participated in all ways - by attending and discussing, by contributing towards the costs of refreshments, by speaking and by moderating. We start up again on January 17, and I hope that is after joyful holidays and the beginning of a happy and healthy New Year for all.

All best regards,
Joe White
Luxenberg Family Professor of Public Policy and Director, Center for Policy Studies

About Our Guest

Jeremy Bendik-Keymer is Elmer G. Beamer and Hubert H. Schneider Professor in Ethics and Associate Professor in the Philosophy Department. He studied with Susan Neiman as an undergrad at Yale and with Martha Nussbaum, Candace Vogler and Charles Larmore as a graduate student at University of Chicago, where he won the Booth Prize for Teaching and the Ross Trust Fellowship for World Service as well as serving as a fellow in the Martin Marty Center for the Advanced Study of Religion.

Although having written mostly on environmental philosophy, he has a long standing interest in philosophy of education, having been a researcher at the Erikson Institute in Chicago for many years. He has written on curricular development for the World Bank and helped build the Department of International Studies at American University of Sharjah, U.A.E., the region's first Middle States accredited school.

His first book was The Ecological Life: Discovering Citizenship and a Sense of Humanity, and he co-edited Ethical Adaptation to Climate Change: Human Virtues of the Future with Allen Thompson of Oregon State University. Professor Bendik-Keymer is currently writing a book of literature called The Book of Becoming -A Ghost Story & its Shadow, and a book in civics, The Anthroponomists! Planetary Agency & the Impossibility of Environmental Citizenship.

Shannon E. French is the Inamori Professor of Ethics, directs the Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence, and has appointments in the Department of Philosophy, School of Law, and Department of Bioethics. She earned her Ph.D. in Philosophy from Brown University and, before coming to CWRU, was Associate Professor of Philosophy at the United States Naval Academy. Dr. French's main area of research is military ethics, especially issues related to the conduct of war, warrior transitions, ethical responses to terrorism and the future of war. Her 2003 book, The Code of the Warrior: Exploring Warrior Values, Past and Present, includes chapters on the warrior codes of the ancient Greeks, Romans, Vikings, Celts, Native Americans, medieval knights, Chinese warrior monks and Japanese samurai, as well as the possibilities for warrior codes in the context of modern combat. As director of the Inamori Center Professor French works to encourage ethical leadership through such programs as the annual Inamori Ethics Prize and the student Global Ethical Leaders Society.

Professor Joe White came to Case in 2000 and became Department Chair in 2003. He previously was Associate Professor of Health Systems Management in the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine at Tulane University, and before that was first Research Associate and then Senior Fellow in the Governmental Studies Program of the Brookings Institution. He received his A.B. in Political Science from the University of Chicago and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley.

Dr. White’s research focuses on the U.S. federal budget, the U.S. health care system, Social Security, and comparing health care systems in rich democracies. His most recent work includes analyses of the cost control provisions and politics of the U.S. health care reform; of budgeting by both Presidents Bush and Obama; and of the role of experts in health policy debate.

Where We Meet

The Friday Public Affairs Lunch convenes each Friday when classes are in session, from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. We usually meet in the Dampeer Room of Kelvin Smith Library. The Dampeer Room is on the second floor of the library. If you get off the elevators, turn right, pass the first bank of tables, and turn right again. Occasionally we need to use a different room; that will always be announced in the weekly e-mails.

Parking Possibilities

The most convenient parking is the lot underneath Severance Hall. We regret that it is not free. From that lot there is an elevator up to street level (labeled as for the Thwing Center); it is less than 50 yards from that exit to the library entrance. You can get from the Severance garage to the library without going outside. Near the entry gates - just to the right if you were driving out - there is a door into a corridor. Walk down the corridor and there will be another door. Beyond that door you'll find the entrance to an elevator which goes up to an entrance right inside the doors to Kelvin Smith Library.
December 2, 2013

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Upcoming Events

Can Globalization Be Governed?

A Global Currents Lecture with Tony Porter, Ph.D., Professor of Political Science and Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research, Faculty of Social Sciences, McMaster University, Thursday, February 27, 4:30 - 6:00 p.m., Room 309, Clark Hall, 11130 Bellflower Road, Cleveland, OH 44106.

To advocates like Tom Friedman, "Globalization" is a wonderful and natural process to which people need to adjust. To some critics, it is a dangerous pattern that needs to be resisted through public authority. And to others it is a process that is not natural at all, but encouraged by public policy that serves some interests at the expense of others.

If globalization were governed, how would that work, and in whose interest? Are there, in fact, efforts to govern aspects of globalization, such as international finance or global environmental threats, now? If so, how do or can they work, in the absence of world government? Tony Porter is one of the world's leading scholars of business regulation and global governance, especially financial regulation and processes of hybrid public/private rule-making that cross international borders. Among his works are Globalization and Finance (Polity Press, 2005); Technology, Governance and Political Conflict in International Industries (Routledge, 2002); and States, Markets, and Regimes in Global Finance (MacMillan, 1993). Some of his recent research has studied creation of transnational rules produced by business associations and international standard-setting bodies; the Financial Stability Board created to coordinate central banks and national financial regulators in the wake of the financial crisis; and influences on international elites from processes such as OECD peer reviews of "best practices" in national governance.

This program is made possible by the generosity of Ms. Eloise Briskin.

December 2013







































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