Have you ever found yourself in a conversation with someone on an important topic and you just keep talking past one another rather than addressing each other’s perspectives?

“It’s a frustrating experience,” says Professor Michael O’Rourke, Department of Philosophy. “It’s especially frustrating if you don’t realize it and only later recognize that what you thought was agreement was in fact disagreement.”

The likelihood of this type of experience increases when interdisciplinary and interprofessional teams work together to solve complex problems. In these situations, a number of different perspectives typically are brought forth with different assumptions, jargon, values, and priorities. These differences can lead to misunderstanding or disagreement among team members.


Message from SRPoiSE Board of Management

Dear SRPoiSE Membership

The SRPoiSE Board of Management thanks the Center for Values in Medicine, Science and Technology at the University of Texas Dallas for hosting the SRPoiSE conference this year. The conference was intellectually invigorating, catalyzed networking opportunities and was well-attended and well-organized. Special thanks go to Matt Brown for organizational leadership, Magda Grohman for her logistical and organizational work, and Eun Ah Lee for working registration and helping out at the conference.

If you couldn’t make it or want to revisit this great conference, check out the program and conference website: One of the unique things the organizers did was create this statement of aims, values and norms:

Thank you again.
Kyle Whyte, on behalf of the SRPoiSE Board of Management

Call for Initial Abstracts: Making the Case

Making the Case: Feminist and Critical Race Theorists Investigate Case Studies

Editors:  Heidi Grasswick and Nancy McHugh

Volume to be published with SUNY Press

Over the past twenty-five years feminist and critical race theorists working in epistemology and philosophy of science and medicine have often employed case studies and extended case examples to make arguments about the efficacy of particular epistemic approaches, to illustrate such epistemic phenomena as the construction of ignorance and the gendered and racialized structure of the sciences and medicine, and to take up issues of epistemic justice and epistemic democracy. Yet in spite of the growing body of literature in this area, there has not yet been a volume that

  1. provides critical assessments of the effectiveness of case-study approaches for feminist and critical race theorists or
  2. provides examples of the pluralism of the approaches in this area. This volume seeks to offer a collection of new work in case study analysis informed by philosophers working in feminist and critical race theory.

We invite initial abstract submissions of 500-750 words that address the use of case studies in epistemology and philosophy of science and medicine, particularly as their use pertains to the goals of feminist and critical race theorists.

Continue reading Call for Initial Abstracts: Making the Case

Kyle Whyte named Timnick Chair in the Humanities in the College of Arts and Letters at Michigan State University

Kyle Whyte, a leading researcher and authority in the ethical and political issues surrounding climate policy and indigenous peoples, has been named as the inaugural Timnick Chair in the Humanities in the College of Arts and Letters at Michigan State University.

As part of the MSU Empower Extraordinary campaign, alumnus and retired businessman Henry Timnick gifted $2 million to endow the position in honor of his mother, Ottilie Schroeter Timnick, to reflect a family belief that a well-balanced liberal education is the best foundation for any career and for a fulfilling life.

Whyte’s primary research addresses moral and political issues concerning climate policy and indigenous peoples and the ethics of cooperative relationships between indigenous peoples and climate science organizations. An enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Whyte is currently working with six federally recognized tribes in the Great Lakes region on envisioning ethical planning scenarios for climate change preparedness.

Continue reading Kyle Whyte named Timnick Chair in the Humanities in the College of Arts and Letters at Michigan State University

Interview with Matt Brown

“Ultimately, there needs to be more of a sense that climate scientists are trustworthy to the values that the public holds,” Brown says. “I’m not sure that’s communicated very well when the climate science community heavily emphasizes the policy neutrality of climate science, and then in other forums comes out advocating immediate action. It’s not plausible, and it doesn’t engender a whole lot of trust.”

Continue reading Interview with Matt Brown

MSU: Diversity and Ethical Behaviours Among Scientists

A group of Michigan State University researchers hopes to find out if belonging to a diverse research team scientists more prone to share their data and give appropriate credit to colleagues in their publications, using a five-year, $600,000 National Science Foundation grant to study how demographic and disciplinary diversity affects scientists’ ethical behaviors.

“If, as we anticipate, scientists’ ethical standards and practices are improved by promoting more diverse research teams, that’s an important argument for increasing diversity in science,” said Kevin Elliott, an  associate professor in Lyman Briggs College, the Department of Fisheries, and Wildlife and the Department of Philosophy. “And, increasing diversity can create a scientific community that’s more sensitive to all sectors of society.”

SRPoiSE: Second Annual Meeting: Call for Proposals

Submissions are invited for the Second Annual Meeting of SRPoiSE, to be held at Michigan State University Detroit Center, March 27- 28, 2015. This conference seeks to convene presentations, panels, and discussions that serve to promote better understanding of the opportunities and barriers for improving the capacity of philosophers of all specializations to collaborate and engage with scientists, engineers, policy-makers, and a wide range of publics to foster epistemically and ethically responsible scientific and technological research and policy-making.

Deadline for Expressions of Interest: October 1st, 2014

Continue reading SRPoiSE: Second Annual Meeting: Call for Proposals

Guidance on Funding from Industry

From Heather Douglas in consultation with Kevin Elliott, Andrew Maynard, Paul Thompson, and Kyle Whyte.

Discussing the issues involved with taking funding from an industrial or corporate group in order to do scientific work (whether data collection, synthetic analysis, or science communication). The document addresses the possible problems such funding could pose, key values to be protected, and possible solutions to the challenge. The group has developed a set of overlapping practices that could serve to protect the integrity and credibility of such projects.

Don Howard on Robot Ethics

By: Dave Saldana

Don Howard is not interested in setting out a parade of the horribles and scary what-ifs. We don’t have to ponder, as the classic sci-fi film “RoboCop” did in 1987, whether a fully automated law enforcement machine might fail and kill an innocent person. In a world where unmanned aircraft wage war and driverless cars roam the highways, what’s real now is already enough for the director of Notre Dame’s Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values.

Continue reading Don Howard on Robot Ethics

Science-Policy Interface: International Comparison Workshop

May 21st to May 23rd
Organized by Heather Douglas, University of Waterloo

Nicolae Morar (The Rock Ethics Institute, Penn State University) & Kevin Elliott (Michigan State University)

From May 21st to May 23rd, the University of Waterloo’s Heather Douglas organized an impressive international workshop concerning the relationship between science and policy. Both of us, Nicolae and Kevin, had the privilege to attend these three intellectually intense days of talks, all casting light on various aspects of the complex interaction between science and governance. A number of scholars form Canada, the US, and the UK tackled questions regarding the nature of science advising in those countries, the role of patents in regulating inventions, the input of think tanks in generating or promoting specific science agendas, the regulation of emerging technologies, the importance of public participation in the scientific enterprise, and the strategies of past and current science advisors in promoting science for education and democracy. The quality of the invited speakers  was outstanding, and the comparisons between science policy in the US, UK, and Canada was instructive.

Continue reading Science-Policy Interface: International Comparison Workshop

Nicolae Morar

Assistant Professor

Department of Philosophy and the Environmental Studies Program
Associate Member, Institute of Ecology and Evolution
University of Oregon

1295 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403-1295



B.A. in philosophy from Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3 (France)

M.A. in philosophy from Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3 (France)

Ph.D. in philosophy from Purdue University


Dr. Morar is an applied ethicist whose research interests are at the intersection of biology, ecology, ethics, and biopolitics. He received his B.A. and M.A. in philosophy from Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3 in France and has earned his PhD in philosophy from Purdue University. His dissertation analyzes the ways in which current biotechnologies alter traditional conceptions of human nature.

In his current work, Dr. Morar approaches the notion of human nature from various perspectives: at the limit between non-human animal and humans, where he proposes a more radical solution to the moral conundrum raised by genetic chimeras; at the limit between humans and more than humans, where he claims that the argument from human nature fails to characterize genetic altering techniques as morally reprehensible. He also proposes a positive account of human nature from a biological perspective where he employs the notion of norm of reaction along with a microbial view of human organisms to capture the variability at heart in every human population.

He is a Co-PI on the grant Biodiversity at Twenty-Five: The Problem of Ecological Proxy Values, which provides a critical assessment of the normative role of biodiversity. He is also a Co-PI on the grant Between Deleuze and Foucault, which will make available a first complete transcription and translation of Deleuze’s 1985-1986 seminar on Foucault, as well as an edited collection as a critical apparatus.

In September 2012, he was a Visiting Scholar at The Hastings Center working on a project entitled “A Critical Argument for a Principle of Minimal Biological Realism in Bioethics”. He joined the Rock Ethics Institute at The Pennsylvania State University in the Fall 2013, as a Post Doctoral Scholar, working on research ethics projects and on implementing ethics in science education at the graduate level. In the fall of 2015, he joined the Environmental Studies Program and the Department of Philosophy as a regular faculty. As an Associate Member, he continues his sustained collaborations with the Institute of Ecology and Evolution at University of Oregon.

Research Interests

Applied Ethics, Philosophy of Biology/ Ecology, Recent French Philosophy (especially, Michel Foucault)

Representative Publication

  • “Bioethics and the Constitution of the Ecological Individual”, (with Jonathan Beever), Environmental Philosophy, forthcoming
  • “Toward an Ecological Bioethics”, (with Joshua A. Skorburg), American Journal of Bioethics, 16(2016):5, p.35-37
  • “Implicit Bias and Gifts: How does Social Psychology Help us Thinking Differently about the Medical Practice?”, (with Natalia Washington), Hastings Center Report , 46(2016):3, p.33-43
  • “The Porosity of Autonomy: Social and Biological Constitution of the Patient in Biomedicine”, (with Jonathan Beever), American Journal of Bioethics, 16(2016):2, p.34-45
  • “Biodiversity at Twenty-Five Years: Revolution or Red Herring?”, (with Ted Toadvine & Brendan Bohannan), Ethics, Policy, & Environment , 18(2015):1, pp.16-26
  • “An Empirically Informed Critique of Habermas’ Argument from Human Nature”, Journal of Science & Engineering Ethics, 21(2015):1, pp.95-113
  • “Against the Yuck Factor: On the Ideal Role of Disgust in Society” (with Daniel Kelly), Utilitas, Forthcoming (2014).

Reilly Center: Postdoctoral Fellowship in Ethics Education in Science and Engineering

The Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values at the University of Notre Dame seeks to appoint a Postdoctoral Fellow for three years beginning July 1, 2014. Applicants must have completed all requirements for the doctoral degree by summer 2014.

Applications are welcome from scholars working in any area of the ethics of science and engineering, with preference given to applicants with a strong educational background in a field of science or engineering.

John J. Reilly Center: NSF-EESE Grant

Citizen-Scientists as Agents of Change: Training the Trainer in the Ethics of Science and Technology

The Reilly Center has received an Ethics Education in Science and Engineering (EESE) grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF award 1338652). This grant will allow them to provide training to 15 graduate students per year for three years beginning spring 2015.

A select group of fifteen students per year will have the opportunity for advanced training in the ethics of science and technology with a focus on “big picture” or “macro-ethics” issues. Their training starts with an intensive, one-week citizen-scientist ethics boot camp, and is reinforced for the remainder of the academic year with mandatory, follow-on, in-service projects.

Notre Dame: Science, Technology, and Values (STV) Minor – Courses offered

Notre Dame’s STV program offers the opportunity to acquire a multifaceted understanding of science and technology. By examining scientific and technological innovation not only through the lens of the scientist or engineer, but also that of the moral theorist, historian, and anthropologist, STV students acquire the tools they need to solve the complex problems that arise where science and society intersect.

Toolbox Project

The Toolbox Project is intended to provide a philosophical yet practical enhancement to cross-disciplinary, collaborative science. Rooted in philosophical analysis, Toolbox workshops enable cross-disciplinary collaborators to engage in a structured dialogue about their research assumptions. This yields both self-awareness and mutual understanding, supplying CDR collaborators with the robust foundation needed for effective collaborative research.

Notre Dame: NBC “What Would You Fight For” Series

The University of Notre Dame’s award-winning “What Would You Fight For?” series, now in its seventh season, showcases the work, scholarly achievements, and global impact of Notre Dame faculty, students, and alumni. These two-minute segments, each originally aired during a home football game broadcast on NBC, highlight the University’s proud moniker, the Fighting Irish, and tell the stories of the members of the Notre Dame family who fight to bring solutions to a world in need.

NSF Network for Sustainable Climate Risk Management (SCRiM)

The NSF Network for Sustainable Climate Risk Management (SCRiM) is an example of embedded philosophy.  SCRiM links a transdisciplinary team of scholars at 19 universities and 5 research institutions across 6 nations to answer the question, “What are sustainable, scientifically sound, technologically feasible, economically efficient, and ethically defensible climate risk management strategies?” A number of SRPioSE members are embedded with climate scientists, economists, statisticians, and modelers to collaborate on coupled ethical-epistemic analyses.

Michigan State University: Researchers Receive Grant for Ethics Education Project

A team of multidisciplinary MSU researchers has received a 3-year grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for $196,759. The team, which consists of Dr. Michael O’Rourke, Dr. Thomas Dietz, Dr. Kyle Whyte, and Lyman Briggs Professor, Dr. Sean Valles, will lead the project, “Collaborative Research: Values and Policy in Interdisciplinary Environmental Science: A Dialogue-based Framework for Ethics Education.” This project addresses the lack of ethics education materials in interdisciplinary environmental science programs (IESPs).

University of Waterloo’s Paul Thagard Wins Prestigious Killam Prize

His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada presented the 2013 Killam Prize to five eminent Canadians during a ceremony in Rideau Hall on Tuesday, April 23, 2013.

The Canada Council Killam Prizes are awarded annually for the outstanding career achievements of Canadian scholars in health sciences, engineering, humanities, natural sciences and social sciences.