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Defining Sex Trafficking: A Rights-Based Approach

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Abstract. The term "sex trafficking" can mean many different things, depending on who uses it. To some, it may be synonymous with prostitution. To others, it may equate to slavery. And some may find that sex trafficking differs from both

Abstract. The term "sex trafficking" can mean many different things, depending on who uses it. To some, it may be synonymous with prostitution. To others, it may equate to slavery. And some may find that sex trafficking differs from both slavery and prostitution. But I find that the term "sex trafficking" is used improperly when referring to phenomena that may not entail the violation of rights of any individual involved. For this reason, various definitions of "sex trafficking" may inappropriately conflate sex trafficking with prostitution. In this essay, I argue against such a conflation through supporting a rights-based approach of defining "sex trafficking," in which every instance of true sex trafficking necessitates a violation of someone's rights. First, I begin by laying the foundation of my discussion with definitions and various government and non-government uses of the term "sex trafficking." Then, I argue for the rights-based approach. I proceed to explore how the rights-based approach relates to consent, force, coercion, deception, and competence. Then, I compile my findings, synthesize a definition, and elaborate on a few questions regarding my definition. Using the term "sex trafficking" correctly, as I argue, means that we necessarily use the term in a context of a violation of rights.

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2016-05

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The Ethics of Food Localization

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The globalized food system has caused detriments to the environment, to economic justice, and to social and health rights within the food system. Due to an increasing concern over these problems, there has been a popular turn back to a

The globalized food system has caused detriments to the environment, to economic justice, and to social and health rights within the food system. Due to an increasing concern over these problems, there has been a popular turn back to a localized food system. Localization's main principle is reconnecting the producer and consumer while advocating for healthy, local, environmentally friendly, and socially just food. I give utilitarian reasons within a Kantian ethical framework to argue that while partaking in a local food system may be morally good, we cannot advocate for localization as a moral obligation. It is true from empirical research that localizing food could solve many of the environmental, economic, social, and health problems that exist today due to the food system. However, many other countries depend upon the import/export system to keep their own poverty rates low and economies thriving. Utilitarian Peter Singer argues that it would be irresponsible to stop our business with those other countries because we would be causing more harm than good. There are reasons to support food localization, and reasons to reject food localization. Food localization is a moral good in respect to the many benefits that it has, yet it is not a moral obligation due to some of the detriments it may itself cause.

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2015-05

Consent: A Novella on Medical Ethics

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Human subject research is a sensitive ethical topic in today's society, and with good cause. The history of human subject research is full of tragedy and wrongdoing, which is what has led to the firm restrictions we presently have. At

Human subject research is a sensitive ethical topic in today's society, and with good cause. The history of human subject research is full of tragedy and wrongdoing, which is what has led to the firm restrictions we presently have. At the same time, we also acknowledge the value behind human subject research and the information science can obtain from such endeavors. This project analyzes this conundrum through a narrative describing a group of scientists who choose to ignore some of the laws and regulations concerning human subject research in order to pursue neurological based research for a "greater good." In the novella, the scientists end up harming several people while performing their illegal research, but are able to obtain successful results. However, the group is eventually caught, and end up having to face the consequences of their actions. The situations and interactions the story presents are meant to juxtapose both sides of the human subject research ethical argument in a unique way in order to allow the reader to critically think through the argument themselves and form their own opinions on the matter.

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2015-05

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Ethics of Life Extension Technology

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The prospect of anti-aging or life extension technology is controversial in biogerentology but deemed even by skeptical experts to warrant discussion. I discuss the justifications that the probability of life extension technology being developed in the near future is reasonably

The prospect of anti-aging or life extension technology is controversial in biogerentology but deemed even by skeptical experts to warrant discussion. I discuss the justifications that the probability of life extension technology being developed in the near future is reasonably high and that this research justifies the time and money it receives. I investigate potential ethical and societal issues anti-aging technology might create. This paper addresses inequality of access, economic cost, changes in quality of life, the role of death in human life, if and how the technology should be regulated and how parties who choose not to undergo treatment can be fairly treated, even when they are a minority.

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2015-05

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The Ethics of Human Memory Augmentation

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Memory augmentation will play a vital role in the development of our future. The predicted introduction of downloadable brains will be the first of many neurocognitive technologies that will alter our lives at both the societal and individual levels. These

Memory augmentation will play a vital role in the development of our future. The predicted introduction of downloadable brains will be the first of many neurocognitive technologies that will alter our lives at both the societal and individual levels. These technologies can affect everything from educational institutions to the judicial system, meanwhile raising issues such as autonomy, human psychology, and selfhood. Because of its tremendous potential, memory augmentation and its implications should thoroughly be examined.

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2013-05

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Scenario panning for sustainability: understanding and enhancing participation in group deliberations

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Scenario planning originally garnered attention within the corporate sector as a tool to manage energy transitions, but it has gained traction within the field of sustainability. It is a process for exploring potential futures and thinking critically about complex decisions

Scenario planning originally garnered attention within the corporate sector as a tool to manage energy transitions, but it has gained traction within the field of sustainability. It is a process for exploring potential futures and thinking critically about complex decisions that involve high degrees of uncertainty. It is also effective in shifting mental models, engaging diverse stakeholders, and enhancing organizational learning, making it ideal for the complex problems that sustainability seeks to address. The resulting insights from scenario planning are typically used in strategic planning, which further aligns it with sustainability’s commitments to action-oriented solutions.

As a highly participative process, its success hinges on inclusive and just engagement of participants. This dissertation employed a multimethod approach to address the question, “What impacts do social dynamics have on participation in scenario planning for sustainability?” First, I conducted an ethical exploration of participation, looking to the systemic societal factors that might function as barriers to authentic participation. Next, I conducted an ethnographic study of a scenario planning workshop to identify ways in which social influence and authority impact participation in the process. Finally, I piloted a psychology study that explored the impact of explicit acknowledgement of status differential and the use of pre-event brainstorming on participation in a small group task that parallels scenario planning interactions.

In doing so, this dissertation presents a conceptual framework from which to understand the role of participation in scenario planning for sustainability and coins the term “strawman participation,” drawing attention to the role and function of social influence in participatory processes. If “token participation” arises from participants not being granted decision-making power, strawman participation develops from social/structural barriers, then “authentic participation” allows for both decision-making power and social capacity for participation. Though my findings suggest that scenario planning utilizes methods to equalize participation and engage diverse participants, factors such as status differentials and gender dynamics impact authentic participation. Results of the pilot study point to the utility of status concealment and individual-level brainstorming to bolster participation. Ultimately, this work contributes to a more nuanced understanding of participation in service of more robust, pluralistic sustainability decision making.

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Date Created
2015

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Empathy, enhancement, and responsibility

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This dissertation engages with the philosophical, psychological, and scientific literature on two important topics: empathy and human enhancement. My two broad goals are to clarify the role of empathy in ascriptions of responsibility and to consider how enhanced empathy might

This dissertation engages with the philosophical, psychological, and scientific literature on two important topics: empathy and human enhancement. My two broad goals are to clarify the role of empathy in ascriptions of responsibility and to consider how enhanced empathy might alter those ascriptions.

First, I argue that empathy is best thought of as a two-component process. The first component is what I call the rational component of empathy (RCE). RCE is necessary for moral responsibility as it allows us to put ourselves in another's shoes and to realize that we would want help (or not to be harmed) if we were in the other's place. The second component is what I call the emotive component of empathy (ECE). ECE is usually an automatic response to witnessing others in distress. Expanding on Michael Slote's view that moral distinctions track degrees of empathy, I argue that it is ECE that varies in strength depending on our relationship to specific people.

Second, I argue that in order to achieve Peter Singer's goal an "expanding circle" of care for all human beings, it will be necessary to use some form of artificial empathy enhancement. Within this context, I try to show that empathy enhancement is 1) a reasonably foreseeable possibility within the next decade or so, and 2) morally defensible.

Third, I argue that philosophers who argue that psychopaths are not morally responsible for their actions are mistaken. As I see it, these philosophers have erred in treating empathy as a singular concept and concluding that because psychopaths lack empathy they cannot be held morally responsible for their actions. The distinction between RCE and ECE allows us to say that psychopaths lack one component of empathy, ECE, but are still responsible for their actions because they clearly have a functional RCE.

Fourth, I paint a portrait of the landscape of responsibility with respect to the enhanced empath. I argue that the enhanced empath would be subject to an expanded sphere of special obligations such that acts that were previously supererogatory become, prima facie, morally obligatory.

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Date Created
2016

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Enhancement, commodification, and human flourishing, or, The reason why human enhancement is wrong is because it leads to people being treated like pots

Description

At present, the ideological bias in the human enhancement debate holds that opponents to human enhancement are primarily techno-conservatives who, lacking any reasonable, systematic account of why we ought to be so opposed, simply resort to a sort of fear-mongering

At present, the ideological bias in the human enhancement debate holds that opponents to human enhancement are primarily techno-conservatives who, lacking any reasonable, systematic account of why we ought to be so opposed, simply resort to a sort of fear-mongering and anti-meliorism. This dissertation means to counteract said bias by offering just such an account. Offered herein is a heuristic explanation of how, given a thorough understanding of enhancement both as a technology and as an attitude, we can predict a likely future of rampant commodification and dehumanization of man, and a veritable assault on human flourishing.

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Date Created
2012

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Equal treatment for equal relevance: the unjustifiable exemption of farm animals from animal cruelty laws

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In the past 100 years pet, zoo/aquarium, and research animals have gained unprecedented legal protection from unnecessary human harm via the creation of strict animal cruelty laws. Due to the work of moral philosophers and compassionate lawyers/judges animal cruelty laws

In the past 100 years pet, zoo/aquarium, and research animals have gained unprecedented legal protection from unnecessary human harm via the creation of strict animal cruelty laws. Due to the work of moral philosophers and compassionate lawyers/judges animal cruelty laws have been improved to provide harsher punishments for violations, had their scopes widened to include more animals and had their language changed to better match our evolving conception of animals as independent living entities rather than as merely things for human use. However, while the group of pet, zoo/aquarium, and research animals has enjoyed more consideration by the US legal system, another group of animals has inexplicably been ignored. The farm animals that humans raise for use as food are exempted from nearly every state and federal animal cruelty law for no justifiable reason. In this paper I will argue that our best moral and legal theories concede that we should take animal suffering seriously, and that no relevant difference exists between the group of animals protected by animal cruelty laws and farm animals. Given the lack of a relevant distinction between these two groups I will conclude that current animal cruelty laws should be amended to include farm animals.

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Date Created
2012

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Universal Love as a Moral Ideal

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Moral philosophy should create concepts and formulate arguments to articulate and assess the statements and behaviors of the morally devoted and the traditions (such as religious and ethical systems) founded by the morally devoted. Many moral devotees and their traditions

Moral philosophy should create concepts and formulate arguments to articulate and assess the statements and behaviors of the morally devoted and the traditions (such as religious and ethical systems) founded by the morally devoted. Many moral devotees and their traditions advocate love as the ideal to live by. Therefore, moral philosophy needs an account of love as an ideal. I define an ideal as an instrument for organizing a life and show that this definition is more adequate than previous definitions. Ideals can be founded on virtues, and I show that love is a virtue.

I define love as a composite attitude whose elements are benevolence, consideration, perception of moment (importance or significance), and receptivity. I define receptivity as the ability to be with someone without imposing careless or compulsive expectations. I argue that receptivity curbs the excesses and supplements the defects of the other elements. Love as an ideal is often understood as universal love.

However, there are three problems with universal love: it could be too demanding, it could prevent intimacy and special relationships, and it could require a person to love their abuser. I argue that love can be extended to all human beings without posing unacceptable risks, once love is correctly defined and the ideal correctly understood.

Because of the revelations of ecology and the ongoing transformation of sensibilities about the value of the nonhuman, love should be extended to the nonhuman. I argue that love can be given to the nonhuman in the same way it is to the human, with appropriate variations. But how much of the nonhuman would an ideal direct one to love? I argue for two limits to universal love: it does not make sense to extend it to nonliving things, and it can be extended to all living things. I show that loving all living things does not depend on whether they can reciprocate, and I argue that it would not prevent one from living a recognizably human life.

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Date Created
2020